Why some businesses thrive while others fade into obscurity in the age of constant change


The pace of change is set to become even faster during 2018. Technology, globalisation and shifting workforce demographics are completely altering the way business is conducted.

According to business consulting firm McKinsey and Co[1], every occupation that exists today has the potential to be at least partially automated, and the firm estimates half of all current staff activities could eventually be done by machines. Meanwhile research firm Gartner[2] predicts artificial intelligence (AI) will be the most disruptive class of technologies for the next decade.

It’s increasingly clear that traditional ways of operating won’t continue to work in today’s rapidly evolving business environment. However, many organisations are unsure of the best way to maximise their chances for success.

Adapting to Change in 2018

Some companies are much better than others when it comes to being agile and innovative. It usually comes down to finding the right mix of technologies and management approaches that best suit their particular requirements.

It is also essential to avoid constantly jumping from one technology trend to another. It can be easy to get distracted by the latest and greatest bright, shiny object that promises to hold all of the answers. However, taking a more pragmatic approach is more likely to deliver better long-term results.

A case in point is robotic process automation[3] that’s predicted to be the next big technology trend. Here, the goal is not to have robots sitting at desks and replacing humans, but rather using automation to boost efficiency and remove manual processes wherever it makes sense to do so. Over time, all organisations will need to figure out where such automation makes sense (and where it doesn’t) when it comes to their particular circumstances.

In this evolving environment, businesses will need to do three things in order to succeed in 2018:

  1. Maintain a focus on execution: The most successful businesses are those with baked-in disciplines for, and a focus on, execution. These organisations understand it’s not enough to have a great strategy, it also has to be executed fully and effectively. The best-performing organisations are those that consistently achieve operational excellence, and a brilliant strategy means nothing without the ability to implement it.
  2. Respond faster to change: No one knows what the future holds, so it’s important to be agile and prepared to change as new challenges and opportunities arise. Trends will come and go, so it’s a matter of learning to see opportunities and then finding the best way to use them to deliver value to customers. Companies need to focus on building their capacity for change and ability to respond to those changes quickly and pragmatically to improve the odds of achieving significant dividends.
  3. Constantly challenge how things are done: To achieve optimum results in an era of constant change, nothing should be regarded as sacred. Every option must be on the table, and existing processes and approaches constantly examined to ensure that they are delivering as much value as possible. Those that are not, need to be removed and replaced. Having a simple set-and-forget attitude will no longer work. It’s important for senior managers to encourage everyone within their organisation to flag opportunities for improvement that can become a part of ongoing operations. In this way, incremental changes will result in significant long-term results.

The vital role of effective BPM

As plans are made for the year ahead, business process management (BPM) fundamentals have never been more important. Properly executed, business processes enable an organisation to manage and fully leverage its capacity for change. These processes allow teams to structure the way in which they deal with various business operations while simultaneously maintaining an ability to constantly adapt to a changing marketplace.

The Greek philosopher Heraclitus[4] is credited with saying the one true constant in life is change. Some 2,500 years later, that proclamation seems truer than ever.

While it’s impossible to know what the future will bring, one certainty is that the pace of change will not slow. For this reason, it’s important to make 2018 a year that is more about opportunity than risk. By improving its ability to embrace change, an organisation will be well positioned to take advantage of whatever is just over the horizon.


About the author

Ivan Seselj is CEO of Promapp Solutions, an industry leading provider of cloud-based process management (BPM) software for creating and managing business processes online. Ivan previously wrote A solid case for process improvement: more than a vague promise of happier customersSecuring staff buy-in for process improvementsThe leadership traits that inhibit innovationNine steps to build an agile business in 2017See the world through your customer’s eyes and Will this be the year of risk or opportunity? for Dynamic Business.

[1] https://www.mckinsey.com/business-functions/digital-mckinsey/our-insights/where-machines-could-replace-humans-and-where-they-cant-yet

[2] https://www.gartner.com/smarterwithgartner/the-disruptive-power-of-artificial-intelligence/

[3] https://www.cmswire.com/digital-workplace/7-things-to-consider-before-you-invest-in-a-robotic-process-automation-rpa-system/

[4] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heraclitus