It has been a tumultuous 18 months. Did anyone predict a virus outbreak that would cripple a country, definitely, did anyone predict a virus that would cripple the world, probably. But the scale of turmoil and devastation is hard to comprehend. One thing is for sure, our world has changed forever and all bets are off. So bearing this in mind, what challenges will businesses face in the coming 12 to 18 months and how do we as business owners and managers protect the viability of our organisations going forward.
Strategy originally came from the Greeks and on how they planned to win their wars. Strategy first appeared in the boardroom in the early 20th century. Strategy is about winning the war, objectives are about winning the battles. Without the benefit of a time machine or crystal ball I think there are 3 key areas that businesses will need to be mindful of. Broadly speaking, they include the Covid Legacy, Marketing and Advertising, Climate Change and Carbon Reporting.
1. The Covid Legacy
As of today, September 19th, 2021, 42.8% of the total global population has had their first vaccine, but only 1.9% of low income countries have had a single vaccine dose. These figures indicate a significant short fall of herd immunity. The risk of variants is high and leaving Covid behind is not on the horizon. Not knowing if there will be more severe outbreaks and lockdowns is something every business needs to factor into their future predictions and forecasts. What would it mean for us if it happened again, how quickly could we mobilise, what are the lessons learned? What policies and procedures are in place for employees travelling abroad to ‘unvaccinated’ countries and how do we move forward. Will insurance companies mitigate against these risks and increase their clauses in the fine print? What does insurance look like now for business disruption.
As the workforce slowly makes its way back into physical offices, some employees have opted to work from home, some have opted for a blended version and others still have decided not to come back at all, they have re-evaluated their personal situations and want a change in their lives and their careers. This is posing significant challenges for employers, revised contracts, health and safety, shorter working weeks, leading to increased administration and thinking outside the box. There is a nationwide shortage of applicants for many vacancies in every industry. The reduction and termination of the PUP Payment should elevate some pressure. But with changes comes new risks and we need to seek professional advice and put some time aside to deal with all the scenarios head on and not just hope for the best.
2. Marketing and Advertising
The iOS 14.5 update that Apple released in April is turning out to be a major headache for advertisers. It sees the introduction of Apple’s App Tracking Transparency framework. The new framework is part of Apple’s ongoing push to strengthen iPhone privacy. The framework gives users more granular control over which apps are allowed to track their behaviour across apps and websites.
iOS 14.5 still allows tracking for purposes of serving up ads, but users now have to opt-in. Early reports indicate that upwards of 96% of users are not opting in. As a result, advertisers know less information about users. In turn, advertisers can’t implement targeted ads to the extent they were able to before iOS 14.5 was released. If your business depends on this deep penetration of users and the use of targeted ads online, you will need to revisit how you reach and market to your customer. Many businesses have niche markets and this was an ideal way to specifically target these customers, track them online, get to know their preferences and lifestyle and create relevant content to them.
What will this mean for businesses?
Will it see a return to traditional advertising and marketing, I don’t think so. What it will mean is increased costs to reach your target market. If 96% of iphone users are opting out of tracking, businesses need to find another competitive way of reaching their customer. Now is the time to move on this, it’s a big change. If you are a business that depends on reaching your target market through these channels, other options need to be considered. It may take some time for the negative results to wash through, and one thing we can’t afford to do it wait.
3. Climate Change and Carbon Reporting
Any business who feels that climate change and carbon report is not relevant to them is, well, quite frankly, on another planet. Pressure to respond to climate and carbon reporting will come from regulators and consumers and every business will be affected in one way or another. There are massive energy hikes on the way. Whether it is coming up with alternatives to reduce our energy spend, or showing the consumer that we are socially responsible, there is work to be done.
The term ‘Green Slump’ refers to an organisation who has failed to embrace climate change, with old habits hard to break. They fail to see how their efforts will effect the impact of climate change, but as a responsible business creating a sustainable environment is crucial. Research suggests customers are more likely to buy from one company over another (if prices are equally priced), if the business:
• Demonstrates environmentally friendly practices (90%)
• Promotes health and safety (88%)
• Supports fair labour and trade practices (87%)
Adopting energy saving measures is good for the environment but it is also good for your pocket. Over 30% of energy is wasted in the UK alone. With rising costs in general in every business, this is surely a no brainer.
We all realise the uphill struggle that must be embraced if we are to make any dent on the damage that has been done to our planet. Everyone must play their part. The young generation will want evidence that we are playing our part. Some businesses have started already, have you?
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