These “unprecedented times” are anything but. Here’s how firms can thrive in a changing environment.

Businesses would love nothing more than to put the “unprecedented times” of the Covid-19 pandemic behind them. However, the past two years have only emphasized a trend that has been well underway for the past twenty years: companies of all sizes were, are, and will continue to be buffeted by constant change. The rapidly shifting headwinds shaping America’s business environment show no sign of abating anytime soon. So, what do we do?

Executives are racing to rapidly adopt new strategies that meet the moment and position them for success in the long term. A new mantra—responsiveness—is guiding corporate decision-making to ensure booming bottom lines despite fickle business realities and stiff competition from rival firms.

Whether it’s supply chain disruptions or shifting customer expectations, companies across America must quickly adapt to an array of diverse challenges. Those that successfully reimagine their business as responsive will gain tremendous competitive advantage.

But the harsh reality is that few businesses are truly agile (or responsive) in the face of constant change.

A recent survey conducted by Forrester on behalf of Celerity, the advisory services arm of the Randstad Technologies Group, found that only 15% of firms could be considered truly responsive to new developments driving today’s economy. Why does that matter? Well, those businesses were more likely to secure increased revenue, stronger profits, and better market valuation, driving home the bottom-line value of building a more responsive enterprise.

To make things worse for the 85% of businesses falling outside of that category, responsive firms were more likely to re-invest in improved capabilities powering their corporate agility, effectively doubling down on their competitive market advantage, and putting further distance between them and their peers. There’s still time to be in the percentage of businesses practicing responsiveness, but at some point, those who fall behind and remain in the outside category will face a detrimental impact. We saw this happen in real-time far too often in 2020.

With so much at stake, how can companies reorient themselves to become more responsive and reap the associated benefits? ‘The Responsive Enterprise Report’ offers a playbook for businesses to embrace change, iteratively evolve their capabilities, and reimagine their business to reinforce resiliency in the face of change.

Industries and objectives may vary, but at the heart of every organization’s mission, rightfully, are its customers. Customer-centric objectives are among the best-funded initiatives today, with 45% of report respondents indicating significant investments to understand and meet consumer demands over the next 12 months. But only one-third of companies said their organizations consistently meet customer demands, and at best 40% of firms felt confident in their ability to translate and analyze customer insights into actions that meet their expectations. These data points are intimately connected: the ability to turn data into actionable insights is critical to an organization’s ability to progress its customer-centric strategy. Right now, most organizations are falling short. Those companies that enshrine customers at the center of leadership, strategy, and operations decisions, however, will position themselves to respond to virtually any set of market circumstances.

So, if customers are understandably crucial to every organization, why are businesses missing the mark? Because executing on actionable consumer insights is a whole-of-enterprise activity, and lack of coordination across teams can hinder responsiveness. That statement feels glossed over when, in reality, less than 25% of companies participating in the Responsive Enterprise Report said they have excellent coordination between key business functions.

Most respondents tasked their marketing team with executing customer activities—having only one department focused on customer-impacting initiatives, when customers can be the sole difference between success and failure, can be detrimental. Instead, companies should infuse customer obsession throughout their organization to ensure a more cohesive customer-centric work culture that aligns teams and breaks down silos.

Marketing, operations, and even IT teams operating with a shared sense of consumer value will greatly improve an organization’s ability to respond to changing demands.

The only certainty about the future is change. Business conditions and customer expectations can evolve overnight. The good news is that companies can stay ahead of, and even anticipate, these changes by building a more responsive enterprise to drive long-term value for shareholders and customers.

Schwab, C. (2022, April 11). How Firms Can Thrive In A Changing Business Environment – © Copyright HR.COM Limited.

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