Tag: decade

The disruption caused by the Covid-19 pandemic has raised many questions and resulted in countless articles about business relevance, resilience, purpose and longevity. Uncertainty is the only certainty, and what might have been a realistic ten-year plan two years ago, may well seem ridiculous today.

Yet, businesses concerned with their long-term survival still need to navigate the uncertainty and plan for the future. Terms like “agility” and “adaptability” have become favourites to bandy about but long-term business success requires far more than an acknowledgement of the need to be flexible.

Industry leaders who prioritise the question of business longevity as a strategic prerogative shared some of their insights.

Relevance is always a priority

Even a business that’s been around for half a century can’t ever afford to rest on its laurels. Teljoy, today the country’s foremost rent to own provider, made a name for itself in the 1970s when they offered South Africans the opportunity to rent a television to partake in the excitement of TV finally coming to our shores.

“We’ve been around for a long time and the business has inevitably evolved over the years. It’s thanks to this evolution that we remain not just alive today, but more relevant than ever,” says Jonathan Hurvitz, Teljoy CEO.

Central to Teljoy’s strategic thinking is the understanding that the brand is in the business of offering consumers access to items they need. “It’s not about the fridge or the microwave or the laptop per se, but rather about a business model that solves a particular customer need in a way that aligns to what the contemporary consumer needs, wants and expects from a brand,” Hurvitz explains.

The product or service offering can easily be changed or adapted, or even discarded, but as a business it’s key to focus on the value proposition first and foremost, as the product or service is merely a fulfillment of the value proposition.

Engage evolving consumer needs

Reagen Kok, CEO of digital transformation agency Hoorah Digital, agrees that longevity and relevance is always a strategic business concern. “Particularly in the creative industries where it is easy to fall victim to the ‘flavour of the month’ trap – you’re only as good as your last campaign, after all.”

He explains that, instead, Hoorah’s approach is to ensure they’re always engaging with the evolving needs, desires and preferences of the consumer. “A keen awareness (and anticipation!) of social and cultural trends and nuances are a key part of playing the long game. Our relevance is reflected in our ability to appropriately respond to the prevailing zeitgeist, while ensuring our approach is supported by efficient business structures.”

Data plays a key role too, and increasingly so for businesses across industries. “The right data can be invaluable in informing business decisions, processes and forward planning to see you win in the long run,” Kok says.

Foster a culture of learning

According to McKinsey, up to 375 million workers will need to change occupations by 2030. McKinsey also predicts that in about 60% of occupations, at least one-third of the constituent activities could be automated, implying substantial workplace transformations and changes for all workers.

In uncertain times, it’s important to surround yourself with a skilled workforce that can adapt to change. Fostering a culture of learning will help you prepare for unforeseen challenges.

“It’s important to recognise the importance of the workforce generational shift, “says Edmund Dueck, VP of Sales EMEA at Liferay. “Engaging millennials, reskilling the workforce, and investing in corporate learning are all new and significant considerations that will continue to be relevant.

“Upskilling and reskilling are vital for a highly competitive and evolving business environment, making them both critical elements of a powerful business strategy that is future-proof,” he says.

The whole is the sum of the parts

A successful business is the culmination of a balanced focus on both the big-picture goal for the organisation and a commitment to ensuring that the day-to-day activities of the business run smoothly, efficiently, profitably and ultimately serve the larger objectives.

“It’s easy to become consumed by the minutiae of running a business, where the focus is simply getting the most pressing work done,” says Hayley van der Woude, Managing Director at public relations and integrated marketing agency Irvine Partners. “Striking the right balance between sweating the day-to-day details while keeping an eye on the long-term vision is key, and has been an important part of our own success over the past 11 years. We’ve found that it helps when strategic big-picture thinking is an active part of the KPIs of certain team members. In addition, balance and workflow are important so team members are empowered to step back from their daily grind and think critically and creatively,” she says.

Considering that only some 33% of new businesses make it past the ten-year mark it is crucial to engage the question of longevity, relevance and resilience, particularly at a time when it has been proved that the only constant is change.

Twitter turns 10

Twitter turned 10 on Monday 21 March and, while it might be celebrating at the moment, there are some sobering facts to contend with including a 65% drop in its share price in the last year, discontent from Wall Street and concerns over whether it can continue to add users.

Jack Dorsey returned to the helm of the company he founded last year, replacing Dick Costolo, but has yet to make a big impact, though has stabilized the ship to some extent.

While revenue growth for Twitter’s 2015 fiscal year was strong, reaching $2.2 billion, a 58% year-on-year rise, monthly active users (MAUs) in its fourth quarter were 320 million, remaining flat on the previous quarter.

Adding to the problems, its advertising revenue growth is forecast to fall from 45% this year to 35% in 2017, according to eMarketer data.

For investors, MAU is a key metric and has been the reason Twitter’s stock has tanked 65% in the past 12 months to just under $17, significantly its $26 initial public offering (IPO) price.

Dorsey doesn’t mind. The Twitter co-founder recently told CNBC in an interview that he’s “building a business I ultimately want to endure beyond my lifetime”.

But critics have slammed Twitter for failing to diversify beyond just its microblogging core product.

“Twitter is broadly what it was 10 years ago,” Cyrus Mewawalla, managing director of CM Research, told CNBC Monday, highlighting a common criticism the social media service has received.

“Twitter invented the Tweet, Facebook invented the book of faces, but then they have to expand into other areas very very quickly and whilst Facebook has done that, it’s gone into mobile payments, into virtual reality, into instant messaging, into photographs, Twitter has not.”

Beyond the user base

But it has been trying. Last year, Twitter bought live streaming app Periscope and introduced story curation feature called Moments. Twitter has also been experimenting with ways to attract more advertisers. Earlier this month, it unveiled a feature called “First View”, allowing advertisers to get the top spot on a user’s timeline.

And a report from the New York Post last week suggested that Twitter and Facebook were battling to acquire the rights of conventional TV programs, highlighting the growing importance of video to both services.

But not all analysts are pessimistic on the future success of Twitter. Eleni Marouli, advertising research analyst at IHS, said Twitter “isn’t doing that badly”, citing the 500 million people who visit Twitter but don’t actually sign in. She said that combined with the MUA figure, the totally audience is 820 million.

“They haven’t been able to communicate their success that well to investors which is why the Street is not happy,” Marouli told CNBC in a phone interview.

“In terms of diversifying their offering, they were late to the video game, they now have that and it was something that the advertising industry was calling for. They are responding to signals, the challenge has always been communication.”

So where does Twitter go from here?

Investors are calling for innovation from the company to introduce services that its rivals such as Snapchat or Facebook don’t have. But with such a low share price, some analysts said that the microblogging site is a prime takeover target.

“We still have a sell on Twitter, it is still a takeover target…it’s of a size that can be taken over,” Mewawalla says.

“But I still think organically this company’s got problems so anyone that wants to take it over needs to have a clear strategy that’s different to what Twitter is doing now.”

By Arjun Kharpal for www.cnbc.com

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