As we stand at the dawn of the next industrial revolution and automation technology, what will it take for professionals and businesses alike to succeed and keep ahead of the pack? Should we shy away from automation, artificial intelligence, changes in the economy or policy framework, and should we just look to our strengths to survive?
Perhaps let’s first take a step back to understand some of the key pillars that every business requires, which should be some sort of “clarity, order and direction” to ensure that they grow and grow in the right direction. In addition to this integrity, honesty and transparency in relation to good corporate governance must be at the heart of every business operation. More especially these traits must be visible at a financial reporting level as well.
However, even though you may have the key building blocks, today’s fast changing economic landscape means that you must “Adapt and Innovate” to ensure that you have the edge to succeed. The truth is though, adapting and innovating could mean having the edge for some while for others it could mean the difference in survival altogether. Whilst more and more of our younger generation (our millennials) come into leadership positions, a change in the mind-set is required to adapt the business to a faster changing economic and business landscape. Too often do we see businesses being run the way management perceives is the best and not necessarily what’s best for the business itself.
We’re witnessing an era where the biggest economies are changing hands, countries are becoming more inwardly focused and more and more citizens are demanding engagement and transparency in public financial management. All in all, people want clarity in what’s happening around them and this is ever more profound in businesses which need to have clarity on “what” is really their purpose, “why” do they exist, “what” are their core values and “who” in fact is driving service excellence. By asking these questions businesses can adapt sooner and more easily in making changes which is required for them to remain sustainable and profitable.
Order and direction
Sales, warranty, ERP, current account deficit, sovereign credit ratings, BBBEE, discounts… what does this all mean? More especially, is it relevant for my business and if so where and how does it fit in. Sometimes businesses are in a coasting mode, whereby there is a perception that the “order” of processes will sort themselves out if the business is profitable. This is contrary to best practice and in fact, businesses should have a clear order of processes and cycles coupled with a strong governance structure.
Further, the direction of a business must be strategically aligned to the framework within which they operate including the relevant laws which regulate sector operations. Strategically, if the direction of a business is misguided, then the probability for failure is extremely high.
As businesses seek to identify their order of processes and the direction in which they see themselves growing, they would need to embrace the current changes in technology and in the business environment. This means that businesses must innovate to grow and sustain themselves. Innovation will bring about simplified and streamlined business processes, better productivity, growth and sustainability. Innovation itself doesn’t just mean changing business processes but also means embracing concepts like artificial intelligence, automation and new methodologies.
State owned enterprises
Currently our State-Owned Enterprises (“SOE”) are face a challenging outlook especially with their financial management. If, however our SOE’s were to “adapt” their approach to embrace better citizen engagement, transparency through better corporate governance and just sticking to the basic principles of honesty and integrity, we would see much more value being added to our economy both in the short and long term.
Being able to adapt and innovate in an ever-changing environment is a strength and a trait that perhaps sometimes doesn’t come naturally, however it’s definitely something individuals, businesses, economies and even Governments alike, can learn to do.
Change is the law of life. And those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future ~ John F. Kennedy
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