SMB leaders: success means taking a global outlook on business

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Australia is no longer an island economy, safe from the clutches of distant competitors. Technology has shrunk vast distances, business leaders now have to think about more than local competitors or challenges next door, it’s a global game. Small business is increasingly complex and now takes place amid an interconnected global marketplace – presenting challenges and opportunities for all business leaders.

Today’s business owners need to possess managerial skills that can steer through uncertain waters. Here’s a snapshot of the skillsets that future business leaders will need to captain the ship.

Doing digital diligence

Research from world-leading advisory firm Gartner, drawn from data and findings from proprietary surveys and engagements that explain how different organisational functions are managing the pressure of digital transformation, has shown that digital skills are no longer nice to have, but fundamental to a business leader’s success. The digitisation of operations is now a top priority for all levels of businesses.

Thus, Gartner says the nature of decision making itself has changed and that progressive organisations proactively realign or reinvent themselves to respond to the digital-age demands of internal and external stakeholders. This approach positions an organisation to seize any opportunities presented both by digitisation and changing economic conditions.

To survive digital disruption, companies and business leaders need to explore potential new business models — requiring a degree of entrepreneurial spirit, a strong understanding of business strategy and finance, while understanding information management and analytics technology. Gartner says two-thirds of CEOs surveyed expect their companies to significantly change their business models in response to digital technologies.

IDC predicts that by 2022, 80 per cent of revenue growth will depend on digital offerings and operations – highlighting the need for future business owners to know, understand and implement digital capabilities into their business.

Focusing on value

In a report on the future of IT in business, services firm KPMG says large investments are losing favour to small, more frequent investments that return value quickly.

Organisations are increasingly “thinking like a VC”, placing smaller bets more often and incentivising experimentation. KPMG says companies that thrive in the digital era, will fund value instead of for IT projects; shift to funding products linked to business or customer value which are connected to the overall business strategy; adopt iterative and leaner funding, and be willing to fund products before all of the details are defined.

Current and future business leaders require an analytical mindset, willingness to innovate and understand best practice around technology and information management in order to achieve financial growth.

Gartner says most companies take a stepwise learning approach – moving gradually from the current business to new models but this approach won’t evolve fast enough to keep pace with faster upstart digital competitors. Companies must figure out a path to the digital vision faster or risk being left behind.

This also applies to business supply chains — which move $16 trillion worth of goods annually to nearly 200 countries and provide services to more than seven billion people worldwide. Gartner says CEOs expect supply chain leaders to prepare for digital business and want to know how they intend to develop capabilities – and use advanced technologies like blockchain and artificial intelligence – to create a flexible, agile and responsive digital supply chain.

Decision experts, not business generalists

The last point goes to Gartner, whose report (linked above) found in order to be responsive and effective at operational decision support, managing finance requires a scalable, widely applicable approach that can deliver a financially sound decision without delay.

Improving the financial aptitude of operational decision makers, and instilling more finance information and analysis into key outcomes, create value in a way that’s not possible for business generalists who don’t have a global outlook to business.

Find out why further education made for the challenging, contemporary business world ensures a global outlook for sustained success in our global digital world.

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