Given the weather in London today is bright, dry and warm, it doesn’t feel like a typical December day, but we can’t escape that the fact that there are fewer than 10 shopping days until Christmas Day remaining and a new year is beckoning. Not only will 2016 be headlined by the Rio Olympics and the European Football Championships, but it is of course a leap year. The team at Sermelo has been busy discussing what issues will be impacting the communications agenda and the leaps of faith individuals and organisations might need to take. In this special edition of the Sermelo Six, here are our six thoughts for ’16.
The goldfish bowl effect is familiar to anyone who has lived through a high profile issue or crisis, however the scrutiny organisations will face is only set to increase in a world where the trust deficit is growing. Whether it be the automotive industry providing real-world figures for fuel consumption and emissions, or pharmaceutical companies being more honest about the mark-up on their patented products, this notion of hyper-transparency will be demanded by more stakeholders. It will be harder to ignore the difficult, yet consistent, questions, and it’s likely that honesty will become the best policy.
Multinational organisations have become intertwined in a complex web of supply chains. In 2016, having detailed knowledge of your supply chain and distribution channels and knowing the exact provenance of goods will become a key differentiator. Organisations will need to define collaborative business processes that enable this and identify the pinch points. As societal expectations and standards rise, it arguably heralds an end to the era of ‘plausible deniability’ being used to defend failures.
Cybercrime, data breaches, inappropriate privacy policies and the pervasiveness of the digital world, such as The Internet of Things (IOT) and wearable technology present increased risks. In 2015, there have been many casualties and no doubt there are more to come. In 2016, businesses will have to demonstrate that they have the capabilities to tackle Digirisk and can respond with the immediacy and accuracy we have become accustomed to.
4. Disruption & Destruction of Business Models
Innovation and cost efficiency is creating change within business at an astounding rate. For instance, automation is forcing businesses to re-evaluate the areas that a workforce can add value, whilst big data analytics are creating monumental shifts in marketing and advertising. It’s imperative that businesses demonstrate an awareness to these kinds of shifts, and reassure all stakeholders that there is a plan in place to take advantage of these opportunities. In best Darwinian fashion, business models will need to quickly evolve to survive the changing environment, and I fear many will prioritise short term profits over transformation, and pay the inevitable price of extinction.
5. Human Capital
The aforementioned shifts towards automation and technology have only heightened the importance for businesses to create an engaged and highly skilled workforce. ‘Human capital’ has now become the default form of competitive advantage, and organisations must look to create brand ambassadors that can spread their message exponentially and address such issues as diversity and gender pay gaps. As organisations such as The Living Wage Foundation put increased pressure on organisations to increase the wage floor, organisations will need to balance this with increased productivity and show how investment in human capital delivers sustainable results and increased value. Next year will see new records set for human excellence in sport; let’s hope the same is true of the business world!
6. Climate Change
As the changing weather patterns constantly remind us, global warming is an issue we cannot ignore. The global climate deal reached at COP21 in Paris last week will attempt to limit the rise in global temperatures to less than 2 degrees Celsius. It is the first deal of its kind to commit all countries to cut carbon emissions. This landmark agreement will in turn push sustainability onto the agenda of organisations - if it wasn’t already. Organisations will have to be proactive in finding new ways to incorporate sustainability into their core business strategy. They will also need to decide on the right actions and encourage customers, employees and partners to change their behaviours to make the whole greater than the sum of its parts. This above all else has to be a resolution for 2016, and every year thereafter.
With best wishes for the festive season,
Jonathan and The Sermelo Team