This report explores how companies around the world are conducting strategic business planning, especially in times of uncertainty. MIT Technology Review Insights, in association with Oracle, surveyed 860 executives from various departments including finance, supply chain and logistics, human resources (HR), and information technology.
We also spoke in depth with executives from several companies to find out how they plan and collaborate, from general business processes to their investment in artificial intelligence and cloud-based applications, and how finance, HR and operations evolve to support these efforts. Executives share their own processes and help readers identify techniques to adopt. Here are the main results of our research:
Months after the outbreak, most organizations still face the initial challenges. Half of the organizations surveyed are still dealing with the current emergency, responding to short-term issues, and addressing the issue of financial resilience, such as staff availability and disruption of income. At the same time, some companies, such as manufacturers of cleaning products, have seen their sales skyrocket and are struggling to keep up with demand. Organizations facing both sides of the challenge may have ideas on how to move forward, but they have not yet materialized.
Organizations are working to develop plans to move forward. Almost a quarter are making the necessary adjustments with a future plan in mind, and another quarter are actively working on a new plan: 16% have reached the stage of ‘reinventing the future’ and 6% are considering how their new direction might affect practical issues such as standards and compliance.
Technology is seen as a useful aid in planning efforts. Due to the pandemic, more than half of companies have accelerated cloud adoption. This segment is 50% more likely to have met the challenges of the pandemic for businesses, workforce and customers. The survey also shows that artificial intelligence and machine learning have won the trust of large companies around the world. And three-quarters of those surveyed expect connected business planning, which combines financial, operational, and workforce planning with cloud-based Internet of Things, AI and prescriptive analysis, improves collaboration and decision making.
Planning is a constant effort. All business departments have a role to play in planning for future success, including human resources and the supply chain, and finance is the glue that binds them together. But for collaboration to work, data can’t exist in silos spread across the enterprise: consistent, accessible, and accurate data drives business planning and execution.
Some organizations are more receptive to technology than others. A minority, 10%, are reducing their use of cloud technologies due to the pandemic. They lag behind technology in several ways, from keeping HR and financial data in separate silos to avoiding connected business systems in favor of spreadsheets. These old-fashioned ways may have weakened businesses; for example, if they have not digitized their businesses, they may not have the information that would give them more justification to invest at this critical time.
The road to recovery
It’s an understatement to say that the pandemic has turned everything upside down. The global economy has been affected, every industry has been taken aback and most organizations have had to make painful decisions. Others have benefited, such as detergent makers, training equipment companies and RV vendors, but even those who have faced supply chain issues.
Yet organizations must move forward. “In this unprecedented new reality, we will see a dramatic restructuring of the economic and social order in which business and society traditionally operate,” write Kevin Sneader and Shubham Singhal of McKinsey & Company in “Beyond the coronavirus: the path to the next normal.“
After the initial survival-answer questions, businesses and individuals alike question a long list of additional concerns: How can we continue to thrive? How will we manage the onboarding of new employees as we evolve? What is the next market we want to enter? What changes do we need to make to deal with the lasting social effects of the virus?
A survey of 860 professionals conducted by MIT Technology Review Insights, in association with Oracle, shows that after the initial shock, most companies are working hard to plan, find – and sometimes find – a path to recovery and a return to growth. It also suggests that those who are most enthusiastic about the cloud and advanced technologies such as artificial intelligence and machine learning are not only more likely to overcome the hurdles the pandemic has launched, but to correct themselves towards it. success.
Author Maya Angelou may have referred to individuals when she said, “You may not be in control of all the events that happen to you, but you can decide not to be reduced by them” – but the feeling applies to communities as well as organizations during this unprecedented period of time.
Download the full report.
This content was produced by Insights, the personalized content arm of MIT Technology Review. It was not written by the editorial staff of MIT Technology Review.