• January 20, 2022
  • 7 min read

Outlook 2022: Anaplan’s Connected Planning experts share key insights on how businesses can thrive this year

Victor Barnes

SVP Connected Planning

As Chief of Connected Planning at Anaplan and a former CFO, I have a unique vantage point to see and think about how new trends and challenges play out across industries, regions, and functions. I look for the connections so I can help our customers anticipate and think strategically about the potential domino effects across their organizations.

Although 2022 will certainly see new trends and the pace of change is likely to accelerate, the crux of the challenges businesses will face this year is not new. Ultimately, they circle back to an evolving talent mix and the ability to effectively connect your business to what’s happening outside of it. These issues are as old as business itself.

I recently connected with our CFO, Vikas Mehta, for his perspective on how business leaders can navigate continued macroeconomic volatility in 2022 and beyond.

“Dynamic and real-time scenario planning will be critical tools to help business leaders transition away from a crisis management mindset to a more proactive planning approach and start thriving,” he shared. “One of the biggest disruptions that will continue this year is the shifting talent landscape, demanding that leaders pull the future of work into the present. A wait-and-see approach doesn’t work anymore. This is the year business leaders will need to start making decisions and pushing forward with a well-thought-out plan while attracting the right people to make it happen. CFOs will be the drivers helping their CEOs chart out how modern organizations plan, analyze, execute, and navigate through the macroeconomic volatility.”

Business leaders must put a stake in the ground and confidently make decisions and activate against them. The advice I share with customers and my own mantra for 2022 is to be “always-on”—as an organization and as a leader. To do this, leaders need to embrace new leadership styles and leverage dynamic planning tools that connect the external environment to their people, processes, and plans.

Good leadership takes on a new shape

This year, I believe good leadership will take on a new shape. Being an effective leader is more than just having your name in the top box on the org chart. Today, leaders must become micro leaders, which (different from a micromanager) means “I know your work, I know your daily reality.” When employees feel that their leadership understands their world, it lays the foundation for them to feel seen, heard, and that their work has a purpose. This compels people to stay and grow with the organization and contribute their most authentic selves. But saying the right buzzwords won’t make this happen. Leaders have to put in the hard work.

During a recent conversation, this sentiment was underscored by Sherika Ekpo, Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer at Anaplan.

“While the Great Resignation is unlikely to subside in 2022, I’m optimistic that top employers will see this as an opportunity for a ‘great reimagination’ of their employees’ experience. Top employers will prioritize fostering organizational belonging and respect in a tangible way to help drive retention and performance. To do this, leaders must focus on performance outcomes, define what belonging means to their organization, and stand-up strategic programs to enhance and measure progress to create the respect and psychological safety people need to feel they belong and can meaningfully contribute.”

Effective micro leaders use the Anaplan platform so they can anticipate disruption, see and understand the implications, and collaborate with their people to make strategic decisions together, reinforcing a culture of confidence and connection that enables high performance.

This new approach to leadership will also prove critical in the Asia-Pacific region, where more than 50% of workers in major cities were considering leaving their workplace or actively looking for jobs at the end of 2021. Karen Clarke, Managing Director of APAC at Anaplan, anticipates that this will bring about a new burden of extreme levels of employee burnout.

“This attrition risk comes at a time when retaining top talent is critical to protecting revenue,” Karen said. “To combat this, planning and decision-making is best done within a reliable data-rich platform to offer support in three critical areas: One, to be more agile by combining real-time visibility of changes in market and customer demand with workforce data to align talent strategies. Two, to empower employees by giving them access to the right data and information so that they can make or influence decisions efficiently and effectively. Three, to attract and retain top talent with the ability to seek out modern workplace practices and flexible compensation and benefits programs to support the needs of the employee and maximize business results.”

Karen emphasized that engaging talent will be the golden thread to customer satisfaction and achieving business success in 2022.

Digital transformation is key to agile operations

Similarly, companies need to ensure that they have agile and resilient operations so they can meet customer demand despite local or global volatility and constraints. Ana Pinczuk, Chief Development Officer at Anaplan, expects that global organizations in particular will increasingly rely on cloud-based infrastructure and tools in 2022 to achieve what she calls a more “glocal” approach.

“As businesses work to become more resilient and competitive in 2022, they must evaluate their ability to accommodate local demands and conditions, like availability of talent or goods, with global dependencies, like supply chain constraints, so they can meet the needs of customers, no matter where they live,” Ana said. “This is where the cloud comes in to play! By leveraging the cloud, businesses can gain a deeper understanding of company and customer needs and behaviors across geographies, while still accounting for local nuance and data residency requirements. From there, businesses can leverage new data sets and sources in the cloud to drive strategic decisions that support a more ‘glocal’ organization. Plus, with more capacity and a secure global infrastructure that is flexible by nature, businesses with a global presence can leverage the cloud to simplify operations and seamlessly connect their data, people, and processes with market and customer insights around the world.”

Indeed, 2022 will likely see many organizations restart or kick off larger-scale digital transformation initiatives with the bigger picture in mind of what tech stack they need to take their organization into the future. Similar to how consumers panic-shopped for paper goods at the start of the pandemic, some organizations picked up “knee-jerk” digital tools to provide short-term fixes to what have largely turned out to be long-term changes. Chris Baker, Managing Director of EMEA at Anaplan, believes the UK, in particular, will see a renewed wave of true digital transformation projects.

“Early on in the pandemic, a lot of companies put significant transformation projects on hold, and many still haven’t picked those projects back up,” Chris said. “Pandemic-driven IT investments largely focused on the digital sprints; programs that could be quickly set up to enable remote working, for instance, or vanity projects that drove surface-level change at best. However, as we’ve seen over the past two years, business success requires being able to innovate quickly, bring new ideas to the market ahead of your competition, and navigate volatility with little disruption while maintaining employee productivity. In the UK, IT spending is predicted to grow 6% this year to $223.3 billion, but for most companies, even that won’t be enough to compete or retain top talent. Short-term digital programs are not enough to plug this gap and larger transformation projects need to be re-evaluated and re-prioritized so that businesses can compete strategically, perform efficiently, and be resilient for the future. This means transitioning from a defensive, digital band-aid approach to an offensive one with full-blown transformation projects aimed at long-term performance and growth.”

Point solutions will not drive the true transformation necessary to thrive in 2022. Companies that snapped up various solutions over the past two years while everything was changing so fast will take a step back to shed the digital band-aids and prioritize the tools that can create the always-on environment that modern business leaders need in order to know where to play, how to win, and the talent needed to thrive in 2022 and beyond.

To hear more insights on the future of business, visit our Future of Business 2030 series on the Anaplan blog HERE.