London, 16 November 2021 – Unit4, a specialist in enterprise cloud applications for people-centric organisations, released findings from a new global study, the Business Future Index. Conducted by Vanson Bourne, 3,350 decision makers and employees within mid-sized enterprises were surveyed to understand how businesses around the world approach profit and productivity to sustain their businesses during this economically volatile period.
Included within the study is the Business Maturity Model, which assesses the maturity of respondent organisations against their overall business state, their ability to manage financial processes and their people and talent strategies.
The report and Maturity Model offer a stark warning for businesses that are not getting the balance of priorities right between people, productivity and profit. Analysing performance over the last few years, the Maturity Model identifies organisations as either Optimisers, Embracers, Evaluators, or Hesitators. Hesitators are the least mature in terms of performance and strategy and show the least business success, while optimisers are the most mature.
Some of the concerns across the groups focused around:
- The great resignation: In the last year, 71% of Hesitators say they have lost staff to competitors compared to only 30% of Optimisers
- Workplace culture: Only 4% of Hesitators say workplace culture is a top priority for their leadership teams in contrast to 87% of Optimisers
- Digital transformation: 45% of Optimisers are extremely confident in the robustness and comprehensiveness of their digital transformation strategies compared to only 1% of Hesitators
- Technological innovation: 51% of Optimisers have adopted AI and machine learning, compared to only 1% of Hesitators; 56% of Optimisers have adopted real-time reporting tools compared to only 5% of Hesitators.
The Decision-maker’s delusion
The research reveals a significant disconnect between decision makers and employees around their response to key issues. The perception among respondents that their organisation is doing so well that there is no room for improvement is driven largely by decision makers. Numbers are almost cut in half across the board when looking at employees who feel their organisation is performing very well:
- 25% of decision makers believe their performance in recruiting and retaining talent has been so good there is no room for improvement which contrasts with only 12% of non-decision makers
- 89% of decision makers also believe they have at least met if not exceeded expectations around profitability over the last three years compared to 70% of employees.
Financial management in the digital age
Findings from the global study show there are significant concerns about the effectiveness of financial management processes to support organisations, which underlines the importance of using technology to modernise and make businesses more competitive. This area showed major gaps in a business’s ability to be agile, efficient, and accurate in their decision making:
- Over half (56%) find their organisation’s finance processes too slow and cumbersome making everyday tasks like paying suppliers, managing budgets and raising Purchase Order numbers and invoices difficult
- For ‘Hesitating’ businesses in particular, outdated processes and systems (49%) and human error (43%) are significant issues
- 62% agree that a lack of access to the right information hampers their organisation’s ability to plan, manage risk and make decision effectively
- 55% agree that they are unable to adjust quickly when external factors impact their business.
The time to act is now: The global talent crisis
The research shows that over the last few years, business priorities have focused on survival, namely concentrating on profit and productivity. However, looking ahead, it is clear the biggest concern is attracting and retaining talent. But while people are a business’s most valuable asset, they are often not the biggest focus:
- but the study shows the top three areas of focus for the next 12 months are improving operational efficiency, increasing productivity and attracting new customers
- Talent-related priorities are much lower in the rankings with only 17% saying a successful remote or hybrid office environment is important
- Almost seven in ten (69%) of organisations in the “Hesitating” group say that they don’t do anything to influence workplace culture, whereas the leadership team intentionally focuses on workplace culture in 95% of “Optimising” businesses.
“The Business Maturity Model clearly shows that if organisations are to thrive in the face of talent shortages, they have to set themselves up to be more agile and adaptable, and that means being prepared to take risks and embrace innovation,” says, Mike Ettling, CEO, Unit4. “The role technology plays in enabling this organisational and cultural shift will be crucial to determining success. Organisations should be looking to adopt industry-specific technology strategies that are right for their businesses, because as our study shows, those that get it right see positive impacts across talent recruitment and retention, workplace culture and trust in leadership.”
As companies look to become more competitive and accelerate digital transformation efforts, an easy first step is figuring out whether you are a ‘Hesitator’, an ‘Optimiser’ or something in between. Unit4 has developed a benchmark for organisations to assess how well prepared they are for the next five years. To assess how well your business measures up, visit xxx
Optimisers show the way
The research has identified a set of characteristics for high performing organisations compared to less successful peers.
- 95% are planning to operate a remote or hybrid working model, in contrast to only 24% of Hesitators
- They are more prepared to invest to improve financial management processes with 57% focused on greater investment in technology compared with only 22% of Hesitators
- 59% of Optimisers are increasing technology investment to improve their ability to forecast, compared to 23% of Hesitators.
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