Being Agile, Being Future-Proof

Current is the era of a new breed of enterprises – startups that can easily disrupt big existing companies. While startups majorly focus on penetrating the new markets and adapting themselves just when time demands, the existing businesses are busy fighting the internal battles over power and resources. And probably this is what that keeps them away from being agile.

Existing and more conventional businesses not only need to be agile but also future-ready, so that they are not blown away with the storm of startups. As change is the only constant, being future-proof is as important as sustaining in the present. Though many big organizations claim to be working towards future-proofing their businesses but the fact remains that it takes a back seat on their way forward. The passion and urgency to respond to and drive change diminishes over time and things fall back to square one again.

How to Stay Agile and Future-Ready

So, what can businesses do in such a scenario? Rope in some agility experts? Well, at early stages, companies need not rope in experts. Rather they should adopt some of the simplest and most generic approaches to agility and future-proofing. The idea is to spot the most apparent trends in the industry and apply them to become future-ready. To give you an idea, here we decode top trends that many larger companies are applying to stay nimble. Take a look:

  1. Peek Inside

    Look within before you look outside. Agility is more about your inner strengths and how you use them to cope up with the changes brought and driven by the external factors. Spend time in analyzing your own business. Understand where it is heading. Gain insights into:

    • Your organizational culture
    • The mindsets of your employees
    • The response to change within the company
    • Talent requirements to cope up with the change
    • History of risk taking
    • Aptitudes and tendencies of your employees
    • The ability of middle management
    • What motivates your workforce
    • Intellectual capacity of your company
    • Hiring process
    • Customer acquisition and engagement

    Medium and highly agile businesses look within frequently and try to bring about changes in the internal processes as a part of their routine. When you conduct a thorough internal analysis, you gain clarity into what it will take to move towards the agility.

  2. Embrace Emerging Technologies

    Mobile and internet technologies have had a significant impact on the way business is done. And the trend is here to stay. We can safely assume that it will sustain for an unlimited time. Therefore, it makes sense to analyze how emerging technologies impact your business and relationships with your clients.

    Many organizations have achieved a great change in their internal processes simply by embracing technology. So, conduct an in-depth analysis and try to understand what areas of your business can be improved just by adopting technology.

  3. Consider Future Possibilities

    It may seem strange to talk about future, especially amidst volatility and uncertainty in the business environment. However, future is already here. It’s just not very evenly distributed. This means what’s going to happen within and around you in future is already happening somewhere else in the world. It’s just that it’s currently not happening in your industry or geographical area.

    The idea is to keep a tab on the changes taking place in other parts of the world and anticipate how these would affect your own business had they been a part of your business environment. The impact will be felt sooner or later. So, why not start preparing for something that’s going to affect you in the coming years?

  4. Drive Change

    You must have taken a note that most agile companies drive change instead of responding to change. How? They innovate even before there’s a demand in the market. They bring about a solution in the market and create a demand for it by relating its utility in the daily living of their customers.

    Therefore, the best way to become future-ready is to create the future. You can establish benchmarks, set trends and come up with new ways to do things or solve problems. Wondering how to make this happen? To innovate and drive change, you may:

    • Encourage your team to come up with new ideas
    • Establish and develop an innovation lab within the company premises
    • Acquire small companies or startups working on out-of-the-box ideas
    • Source ideas from fresh graduates by organizing ‘idea hunt’ events
    • Hire innovators

    It’s not necessary to apply all of these ideas. You can choose one or many depending upon your preferences and budget. Since only you know your business well, it’s you who can decide what works and what doesn’t for your business.

  5. Knowledge of Demographical Shift

    It is an established fact that demography plays a crucial role even in business environment. The shift in size, distribution, structure, ageing, culture and consumption habits impact a business more significantly and a level deeper than any other change. After all, a business is all about people, and revolves around fulfilling their needs and preferences.

    Most agile organizations carry out periodic assessments of demographical shifts to take clues for new thinking and prepare for the future. An investigation of study of this kind helps identify the improvements required in existing products and need for a future product.

  6. Collaboration is the Key

    One method for future-proofing a business that experts suggest is - collaboration with other companies, influencers and customers. In fact, this is not the newest trend. It has been around for couple of years now. Over the last few years, companies in diverse fields are coming together and collaborating to innovate. They spot a gap in the market and think around it to come up with an idea - idea that can be transformed into a tangible offering to fill that gap. They also collaborate with influencers and invite groundbreaking ideas from customers.

    Collaboration can be in any form. The latest one was from Pepsi, where the company was inviting advertisement ideas from customers through a TV commercial, during the Cricket World Cup. In return, the selected candidates got a chance to feature in the commercials alongside cricket and film celebrities. Similarly, you can spot an area in which you would want to seek suggestions from outside and collaborate with them to turn it into a tangible offering.

  7. Evolve Outside of Your Core Offering

    This is not common yet the latest. Big companies like Coca Cola and Red Bull have evolved outside of their offerings. Of course, they are known for their products. But they are also known for their creative content. The companies have been constantly producing some of the best interactive content in the form of videos, photo-shoots, pictures and texts. They have taken the world by storm and are practically known for being the biggest and fastest content churners. In fact, they have established themselves as lifestyle brands. You may also identify an area where you can create an alternative brand image simultaneously.

Just because your business is around for decades doesn’t mean it is immortal, and will continue to run forever. Your past matters but you can’t sale through future by riding on your past. You need to take substantial steps to upgrade your business; more precisely your business processes. The need is to develop an agile mindset. So, start now to become future-ready.


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