Three ways to futureproof your business for the next decade

In a world where digital technology is moving at an unprecedented speed, agility and creativity alone will not guarantee success for today’s organizations. Opportunities abound for companies that can thrive in the transformative age. But it’s not enough to simply keep pace with change, companies must stay focused on what lies ahead and at a time of complex change, where the walls of industry have been blown open, it is an endlessly turning wheel of evolving technology.

Reshaping business models, innovating products and services and creating ecosystems to inspire future innovation aren’t one-time initiatives. They’re long-term programs that companies must continually invest in, measure and adapt to propel growth. And that’s why building a strong foundation for innovation is crucial. Here are three ways to set your organization up for success in the next decade:

1. Be digital instead of going digital

Businesses are pouring considerable sums into digital transformations without a clear idea of the value they want or are creating, how their investments align with the overall business strategy and how to sustain changes in the long-run.

To ensure the success of their digital transformation journey, leaders need to set goals that are measurable, traceable and most of all — realizable. The question is not how to integrate the latest gadget into the business, but what outcomes does the business want to achieve with it and how? Then choose the enabling tools, technologies and ways of working that will help you get there to increase the likelihood that you’ll succeed not only in execution, but also in benefit delivery.

Too often digital transformation is limited to upgrading front-end customer experiences without connecting the front office to the middle and back. That focus on customer experience is understandable and necessary in order to acquire new customers and retain existing ones. But to truly transform a business to be relevant to consumers of tomorrow, companies can’t ignore the middle- and back-office functions. Digital only truly works if it’s connected across the organization in three main ways: improving customer interactions, enhancing enterprise capabilities and employee experience, and spurring applied and scalable innovation.

It’s important to tune out the digital noise and think holistically, while innovating in an applied and scalable way. That’s how you can truly be digital instead of just going digital.

2. Harness the power of ecosystem collaboration

The innovation cycle is getting shorter by the day. Traditional partnership structures, like mergers and acquisitions, take time to execute. Instead, we’re seeing more leaders seek fluid and agile ecosystem collaboration. One example is how traditional banks and FinTechs share their capabilities, best practices, technologies and data to stimulate innovation and better meet client expectations.

Identifying the best collaborators and strategic partners isn’t always easy, but many local and international initiatives can help companies tackle this challenge. The Israel Technology and startup trade mission of Acclr is one of many good examples. It was propelled by the Chamber of Commerce of Metropolitan Montréal, organized by Acclr’s Business Services leaders in international commerce, and led by my EY colleagues, Anne-Marie Hubert and Stephanie Jean. Not only did the participants discover business opportunities in the Israeli market, but they also identified new trends in technological innovation and made business connections with prospective collaborators, customers and clients. 

3. Make trust your competitive advantage

Organizations are embracing data-driven business models and processes, including the use of artificial intelligence to solve complex problems. But to truly unlock value, companies require one critical asset: trust. With insights from deeper data analysis, companies can make smarter choices, adapt their products to their clients’ needs and make bolder strategic moves. However, it also represents the fastest-growing risk as the rise of data accessibility can lead to costly mistakes, for which second chances are rare.

Managing the risk associated with data is about more than protecting your company from reputational and legal impacts. It's also about being considered trustworthy, rethinking your strategy to appeal and retain customers, delivering high value at every interaction and maintaining a competitive advantage.

With all of this in mind, and as we start a new decade, we can expect a new wave of challenges to rise. To thrive in the new digital economy, companies must embrace digital transformation, find new ways to optimize their business models through innovation, and foster trust. And this starts by solving the now, exploring the next and imagining the beyond — transforming your business and operating model to enable speed, flexibility and agility for an enterprise-wide, digitally enabled business transformation.

Take a look at 20 topics, trends and insights EY has examined over the past 12 months to frame the critical questions the working world will need to address in the next 120.

About the author

Anthony Rjeily is a partner at EY Canada, where he leads the Canadian Digital Transformation and Innovation practice. Overseeing the most complex EY digital transformation programs for clients that are looking to drive growth through digital engagement, he helps clients transform their enterprise through digital enablement and create disruptive innovation capabilities.

The opinions expressed in this post are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the Chamber of Commerce of Metropolitan Montreal. As a result, the Chamber cannot be held responsible for published content.

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