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Winning in the 2020s: the imperative of resilience

Most of us can probably think of some great business success stories (Netflix, PayPal and Apple), infamous downfalls (Kodak, Blockbuster and MySpace) and failed ventures (Google Glass, Microsoft Zune and Amazon’s Fire Phone).

So, if even the biggest companies have hurdles, why do some manage to rise to the challenge while others spiral down? What is the difference between them? The answer is simple: their ability to quickly adapt – or in other words, their resilience. 

The business world has markedly shifted in the last 20 years. And with machine learning, artificial intelligence, and automation spreading at breakneck speed, businesses must now embrace innovation and build resilience to survive the complete overhaul of their environment. This is especially true in the UK, where businesses face a global economic slowdown, Brexit and changing rules and policies from the new Conservative government. To build organisations that perform well in the 2020s, business leaders must focus on several key areas.


With an estimated 80% of company value now locked up in intangible assets such as intellectual property, software and reputation, business leaders can no longer base their model solely on financial performance.

They must create a broader business framework and assess performance beyond financial data to encompass the purpose, values and strategy of the organisation. This framework should outline how the organisation contributes to society and meets the long-term needs of its stakeholders – be they customers, employees or investors. It should also account for environmental, cyber and societal risks. Resilient businesses are holistic and transparent.

Digital Transformation

To make the most of the digital world and build long-term, sustainable success, businesses must rethink how they operate if they want to stay not only in but ahead of the game. Our Agile Finance Unleashed report, published in partnership with Oracle, found that businesses that had made most progress in successfully transforming their business model were those with a digital-first culture.

If you remember the meteoric rise of Apple and fall of Nokia, you know that market dominance can be here today and gone tomorrow. It is by responding to fast-changing developments in consumer behaviours and innovation, and by developing digital capabilities, that businesses can make the most of digital transformation. Resilient businesses are digital first.

Skills Development

Many businesses do not currently have the pipeline of talented and skilled employees they need to navigate our increasingly complex business world. In fact, a recent report by the Confederation of British Industry and Tata Consultancy Services revealed that two-thirds of UK firms cannot currently fill digital roles.

Our own research shows that despite automation and new technology putting job security at risk, 37% of UK workers remain apathetic toward learning skills, and more worryingly, lack the desire to learn digital skills. Keeping up with digital transformation is not solely about investing in technology: it is largely about training people so they have the necessary skills to perform their roles now and in the future. Resilient businesses embrace talent with a learning mindset.

Customer Intelligence

With interactions happening through online and offline channels, businesses must constantly gather, review and analyse information to effectively engage with their customers and create sustainable success.

Business leaders now have a range of tools and resources at their fingertips to help them make better decisions and optimise their operations. Keeping up with what your customers want – and not what you think they want – to deliver a customer experience that meets, and ultimately exceeds expectations, can be your biggest advantage. Resilient businesses put customers first.


Digital transformation goes beyond deploying new technology solutions: it has also impacted businesses’ security needs. In fact, according to the World Economic Forum, data fraud or theft, and cyberattacks respectively rank fifth and sixth on the list of top ten risks in terms of likelihood – and these can be quite costly.

Cybersecurity breaches for large companies such as Marriott, Facebook, Equifax and Yahoo have each affected an average of 257 million customers, costing a whopping $347m each time. Cybersecurity is more than just an IT issue: it must now be fully integrated – from creating a unified security architecture to sharing threat intelligence – as part of digital transformation to make sure your company’s and customers’ data is safe. Resilient businesses have a holistic approach to risk management.

Economic Slowdown

Amid sluggish UK economic growth, trade wars and Brexit-related uncertainties, businesses must prepare for weaker investments, stifled consumer spending and deceleration of the country’s productivity.

The 2020s will certainly be a continuation of this abrasive environment. Organisations must take a closer look at their models to create operational efficiencies, develop new products and services, embrace technological innovation and cultivate their workforce’s digital skills. Only those businesses that have embedded such resilience will thrive in the days to come. Will yours? 

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