Between trade discussions, a Brexit deadline and the U.S. presidential election, many business leaders anticipated ambiguities and planned for some uncertainty heading into 2020.
However, just three-months into the year the global outbreak and rapid spread of the novel coronavirus has sent shockwaves across industries, markets and economies. As a result, strategies developed in the final months of 2019 are largely obsolete and businesses are instead being defined by their ability to react and adapt in real-time to volatile and unprecedented disruption.
Yet, in a global economic landscape where change is the only constant, a surprising number of companies still rely on long-range planning and take weeks or longer to incorporate impactful market changes.
Unlocking business agility
In the past, long-range plans were based on a three-to-five-year outlook, where business leaders considered the current market landscape and did their best to make predictions about the future, often relying on historical data. These plans sat largely unchanged for extended periods of time—regardless of market shifts—making the data stale and the insights used to drive decisions insufficient.
The first three months of 2020 have proven, however, that business agility is critical for success and organizations need to be far nimbler than ever before. Market forces have shortened planning cycles, bringing decision-making time down to almost zero and rendering long-range planning obsolete.
Adopting a more agile, intelligent approach to planning can help companies reinvent the way they operate in dynamic environments. By removing manual, time-consuming processes and creating a single source of truth for company-wide data, intelligent planning solutions foster collaboration and drive end-to-end visibility. That means that at any given time, leaders have a clear view into their entire business and understand how a decision in one part of the organization impacts the rest.
With improved productivity and unified decision-making, businesses can react quickly to disruption and drive continuity in a rapidly changing market.
According to one country CFO at a leading multinational professional services firm, “our goal is to be sufficiently agile to deal with all the changes that come our way. If you think about globalization, about the evolving regulatory landscape, about the technology advantages, we need a framework where we can achieve that goal.”
The company leverages intelligent, agile planning to keep pace with the fast-evolving global regulatory landscape so they can quickly reconcile regulatory shifts back into its financial planning and budgeting.
The future of planning
The days of relying on gut instincts and isolated data to drive long-range plans that are updated on a quarterly or annual basis are over. Instead, agile, intelligent planning allows businesses to continuously shift as the market demands. Decision makers can model numerous scenarios, working with all of the potential variables to understand the impact a sudden shift could have on their organization’s bottom line. And leaders can feel confident acting quickly, and decisively amid disruption.
The need for nimbler business operations is undeniable as companies are increasingly defined by their ability to react and respond to uncertainty. In 2020 and beyond, agile organizations that can plan in real-time will be better equipped to navigate disruption, drive continuity and adapt for success amid rapidly changing business environments.