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Business Strategy

What’s your playbook to deal with the future?

Humans famously discount the future.

We humans famously discount the future and instead, obsess over the present. It’s a damning trait because with the pace of change now exponential, threats and opportunities long assumed to be years away are now arriving daily.

This innate blindness to the future begs the question: How confident are you that you’re aware of these emerging market dynamics?

The dynamics below come from major global studies by Lindsay Foresight & Stratagem. The first was done in 2018, commissioned by the 4A’s and titled The Quantum Age of Marketing™. Others come from 2019 studies by Lindsay Foresight & Stratagem. Together, they uncover eleven megatrends with an inordinately large impact on any organization’s ability to drive growth and value creation in the future –or transform itself for viability the day after tomorrow.

1. Commerce, culture and consumption are converging. Among the implications are major shifts in what people are moved to consume; a 180-degree flip in how products and brands are successfully launched and scaled.

2. Increasingly, people lead no-line lives, going back and forth between online and offline worlds as autonomically as breathing. Implications include the degree of speed with which all companies must now connect customers and employees with frictionless, optimized, personalized experiences. And because anything in an organization can positively or negatively impact this (customer service, IT, finance, innovation, marketing and more), it means everyone in an organization must have the same, right understanding of what experiences must deliver and how success will be measured. For example: Optimized performance requires a company purpose, value proposition and brand promise that give the company a reason to live in the lives of customers; employee understanding of the role they play in its delivery. This means companies are particularly vulnerable if employees have an uneven understanding of modern marketing (which is customer-experience focused); if they have little first-person customer data for insight and improvement-tracking; if the staff, C-Suite and board are naive on how people truly do develop preferences or make buying decisions. Enterprise-wide sophistication on all these is now critical because…

3. Companies are no longer dealing with people but rather, with Gods. This is because people today have the power to bless or damn -— overnight- — a product, brand, cause, executive or marketing initiative. That’s why it’s imperative that everyone in a company know what psychology, neuro-psych, social psych, quantitative psych and behavioral economics tell us it now takes to influence people’s attitudes and behaviors in our favor.

4. Relentless disruption, disintermediation and dramatic opportunity are the new norm. Executives should just expect it and have a menu of proactive strategies such as auditing themselves and customers to note where there is vulnerability. Other strategies include dramatic increases in innovation, joint partnerships and acquisitions. A side effect of this is the next trend …

5. Categories are fusing, getting confusing, and evolving into something much broader. This means businesses need to anticipate now the new and broader competitive sets (McKinsey calls them ecosystems) in which we’ll all soon be competing. To win in the face of them, we can take comfort that …

6. Previous barriers to growth, innovation and partnerships are being toppled. Technology has made commerce borderless. Culture, consumption, careers and opportunity, too. Staffing, partnerships and revenue models that would have been impossible a couple years ago are no longer so. In fact, so amazing is the pace that …

7. Nothing is impossible anymore except what we tell ourselves can’t be done. But ‘we ain’t seen nothing yet.’ As Michael Malone expressed in The Wall Street Journal: “A thousand years from now what will be remembered most about our time will be its stunning efflorescence of innovation and entrepreneurship… Now…everything is at play…to completely remake the world.”

8. Destined to accelerate the potential of companies and brands to have competitive advantage and transform their future are advances in quantum computing, quantum physics and quantum biology. And with quantum computing likely available on the cloud in only a few years, the result will be a dramatic increase in learning from large data sets related to consumer behavior and also, new product possibilities.

9. Advantage in accelerating growth, value creation and marketing effectiveness will only come from faster learning and strategic, pre-emptive foresight. The future belongs to companies where, across the entire enterprise, people are equipped to learn more, faster, about what delights customers. What moves their sentiments and behaviors. This means every company must re-envision itself as an ecosystem connecting customers, employees, vendors and data to have more and better foresight in real time and no-line ways. This requires companies to re-architect operational and revenue models for extreme agility and total customer centricity.

10. Business strategy is merging with marketing strategy. Years ago, Peter Drucker advocated: “Marketing is not a function; it is the whole business from customers’ point of view.” And given the speed with which Gods today can bless or damn things, companies that do not operate and optimize from customers’ point of view will find themselves vulnerable competitively and financially. For example, the agile operations required to please customers today cannot happen if the basic 4 (product, place of distribution, price and promotion) are optimized separately from each other. With first-person data, rapid testing and proactive modeling all 4 can and should be optimized holistically. This is just one example of how today, all business operations are marketing operations. How all in a company are now marketers. How, already, business strategy is tantamount to marketing strategy and vice versa. (A key conclusion of the Lindsay Foresight & Stratagem study: The degree to which an organization or brand converges its business and marketing strategy predicts its survival.)

11. The future belongs to those with new growth playbooks. Strategies of the past are no match for a future without precedent. They’ll be impotent in the face of what the World Economic Forum describes as a “whole new ecosystem of existence.”. Deloitte strategists and authors of Detonate: Why-and how-Corporations Must Blow Up Best Practices to Survive explain: What many deem to be best practices are anchored in the perception of permanence. Long used playbooks were built for a slowness and predictability that no longer exists. Falling back on them will feel comfortable but will not foster the kind of transformation needed to prepare for the day after tomorrow.

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