Fire-fighting today is challenging enough, but what will be of concern to tomorrow’s executives?
The one constant in life is that everything changes. Think of how differently our lives are today to how things were for your parents and grandparents. Amongst many other things, new technology has appeared and attitudes have altered and broadened.
Companies that haven’t rolled with the changes and adapted are likely to be few in number, if still trading at all. If customers’ tastes change, or their expectations shift, an organisation has to move their approach to still appeal to those consumers.
Consider that only ten years ago, the internet wasn’t anywhere near as integral in our lives as it is now. Few businesses would have been present on the web, and even fewer people would have used it to shop, bank, or as the huge resource it is; the whole face of consumerism has shifted within the last decade, thanks to cyberspace.
So, what will be the next huge shifts and challenges today’s companies will face? Here are just a few points for business leaders to consider:
The typical age of consumers
Evidence has shown that we’re living longer, thanks to medical advances and continual improvements in our living standards. Because of this, the retirement age has moved and we will work for longer. Our expectations of what ‘old age’ means will also shift, particularly if we’re still actively working; businesses need to pay heed to the wants and needs of the older generation, because there’ll be a lot of older consumers around.
You’d be forgiven for thinking only the young matter if you were to walk along most high streets or pick up magazines today; however, things will alter with a much larger market and demographic of consumers over the age of 50.
Over 50% of the population lives in cities today, but during the next generation this figure will rise to 70%, bringing all sorts of issues concerning logistics, infrastructure and space for housing, retail and development.
The most efficient execution will be what sets companies apart, as will their agility and ability to adapt to what could prove ‘overpopulation’ challenges in some areas.
Whilst it could be argued that class is something that diminishes with each generation, experts predict that the middle class will see the most growth in the near future, due to economic shifts. 90% of the middle class will live in emerging markets, such as China and India.
Though this has its positives, not least new wealth to be chased, we may see some commodities become scarce as a result.
With so many channels and technologies available that allow you to interact with your consumer, and new avenues surfacing all the time, one challenge will be choosing the right channel for the right demographic. High expectations from all sections of the market may see some organisations spread thinly across all platforms and outlets, which may threaten or dilute the overall customer experience.
Serving a global community means companies will need to keep abreast and sympathetic of differing languages and cultures throughout all their touch points – a challenge in itself.
Attention to, and investment in, innovation is crucial, as the more flexible a company is, the more likely it will stay afloat. I’ve spoken in recent posts about the importance of innovation and creativity in business, touting it as the main source of competitive advantage; the most successful companies of tomorrow will lead and produce new ideas, rather than react to market changes driven by their competitors.
Skills gaps and a still-shaky economy are just two things that threaten any rosy future, as significant issues to businesses today. Tomorrow’s executives certainly have as many challenges to face as the execs of today – whether they prove harder or worse challenges, only time will tell. As I said at the beginning of this post, change is the only thing executives of any generation can rely on.
Angela Sabin is a Master Practitioner and executive coach, helping those engaging her services to eradicate obstacles in their careers or life situations. Contact her for more details on 01302 220021 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thanks to pakorn at freedigitalphotos.net for use of the image.