Agility key to business survival, warns expert


PHUKET: The pandemic and economic crisis have pushed businesses to the absolute limit of their endurance. For a great number of companies, survival has meant severe cost-cutting and on-the-fly adjustments to stay relevant in a heavily disrupted market, reports Chris Cracknell, Chairman of international accounting and business consultants Grant Thornton.

Mr Cracknell delivered his observation, and vital advice, to business leaders at the British Chamber of Commerce Thailand (BCCT) BCCT Multi-Chamber Phuket Briefing & Networking event at the Outrigger Laguna Phuket Beach Resort last Wednesday night (Oct 21).

At the event, organised in cooperation with AustCham, BeluThai, Cancham, EABC, Franco, GTCC and NTCC, Mr Cracknell delivered his presentation on “The Covid and Post-Covid Global Economy”.

Mr Cracknell offered some superb pearls of wisdom about what businesses should be focusing on in the current and forthcoming economic climate.

Of note, is Grant Thornton the seventh largest accounting network in the world by combined fee income, and Grant Thornton LLP is the sixth largest US accounting and advisory organization.

In a special missive to The Phuket News, Mr Cracknell explained, “2021 may bring good news in the form of a vaccine, but no one can provide a timeline with any certainty. Even a post-COVID world would be a very different one indeed, marked by unpredictability: Will people travel and spend again freely, having been desperate for so long to put the virus behind them? Or will a spirit of caution continue to guide economic activity, as economic insecurity plagues markets for years to come?”

This kind of uncertainty extends to the habits and priorities of consumers in every sector, both before and after a vaccine is distributed, Mr Cracknell noted.

“In a shifting landscape, businesses need to pay close attention to the needs and habits of their customers – continually updating their approach to meet every opportunity. At present, however, most organisations are simply not structured to pivot at a moment’s notice. Only the most agile of businesses can analyse data in real-time, continuously revise their strategy, innovate and implement new concepts, and keep themselves ahead of the curve,” he wrote.

“Most other companies should make it their top priority to embody this kind of agility. Doing so means focusing entirely on their core business model, and outsourcing the rest. Specialists can handle administrative and non-core tasks more quickly and efficiently than an in-house team, at a fraction of the cost of employing an entire department for the purpose,” he added.

To further streamline operations, companies should train and empower their teams to act autonomously according to a shared mission. If all decisions have to be individually issued or vetted by the person at the top, momentum is lost and employees have little reason to take initiative. But if a culture emerges where sensible experimentation is rewarded, and teams can act on new opportunities without delay, the potential for innovation radically increases, he explained.

“The time has come for old business strategies, and old organisational structures, to disappear,” Mr Cracknell forewarned.

“They were designed to fit a world of stability and incremental growth – a world we no longer live in. Success in a time of disruption requires a fresh approach to business, implemented by bold and courageous leaders. It requires a solid foundation of technology, to facilitate digital operations for seamless communications and a well designed customer experience. But most of all, it requires businesses to accept that the way forward is to build as much flexibility as possible into their operations,” he wrote.

“Businesses in 2021 will discover that the demands of growth and recovery can be as challenging as the economic crisis itself. Yet there is a difference: This time, we know the kind of world we are entering, and can prepare ourselves by making the business community far more agile than it was at the start of 2020,” Mr Cracknell concluded.

Courtesy: Published at The Phuket News on October 26, 2020

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