9 November 2016 | By Gordon Wilson Community

Start with the customer

During a period of disruption, businesses that want to adapt and prosper should take their direction from the customer

2016 has been a momentous year for Britain. As the consequences of Brexit begin to filter through, embracing change in order to grow and prosper is top of the agenda.

It is apt then that this year’s CBI Annual Conference will explore how digital disruption can be harnessed to drive innovation, support business growth and lay the foundations for prosperity.

To mark the occasion, we will be revealing the results of our inaugural independent Trends Report which aims to identify and examine the top issues British business face as a result of digital disruption. There’s no denying that the digital era is changing the expectations of customers, partners and employees in terms of the way they want to engage and the services they demand. We want to understand businesses’ state of readiness to adapt and innovate in order to prosper by delivering the experiences customers increasingly demand.

The survey aims to highlight the ingredients needed to compete and be successful in a digital era. Questions we hope to answer include: how prepared are British businesses to embrace digital transformation; are leaders able to successfully take their organisations on this journey; is the workforce operating at its full potential, with access to digital tools to drive productivity; and is digital being used to transform the service offered to customers?

Responding to change

People react to significant change differently and have different perceptions of readiness for change. Within our own customer base we’ve seen such a diversity of initial assumptions about what needs to be done.

Is it a case of going back to the drawing board and reimagining how things can become more agile?  Or should businesses focus on resilience and stick to proven methods that have always worked in the past? Or do some organisations have an inner confidence that they are already well placed to respond to change?

In our experience, it appears widely accepted that the digital era is demanding a new set of services or products, as consumers draw upon digital experiences from outside of work and bring these expectations into the world of business.

Our commercial customer Tideway, operator of the largest construction project in the UK, the Thames Tideway Tunnel in London, moved to a cloud based solution to ensure project excellence in managing multiple stakeholders and to increase staff productivity while on the go.

Academies Enterprise Trust, the largest multi-academy trust in the UK, uses a software-as-a-service “learner-centric” solution. This is focused on providing the best possible learning environment for students, helping each academy adhere to Ofsted’s rigorous regulatory requirements, while significantly reducing costs – savings of £1.5m are forecast.

The question still remains as to whether digital disruption will impact particular industry sectors more than others. As to the impact on the workforce or on the role of British leaders, we have yet to see.

Identifying trends

We feel strongly that it will be organisations that put their customers front and centre, revolving around every aspect of the customer journey, that will be best placed in the future. However, to understand the true picture of readiness among our British counterparts, it was important not to make assumptions but to test the water as to the real state of the nation in 2016.

Our Trends Report will paint a picture of the UK’s digital business landscape and its place within the post-referendum world. From this position, we will certainly be reviewing, refining and potentially revising our future roadmap. While change can be the catalyst for growth and prosperity, the level of readiness to respond effectively will play a vital role to the success of the British economy.