How to future-proof your business » SMEInsider

How to future-proof your business

“Where do you see yourself in five years’ time?” might be a popular interview question, but in business, it’s harder and harder to answer.

The world is changing so fast that some entrepreneurs, particularly those working in tech, feel that planning more than a year or so ahead really is just making things up.

To put things in perspective, five years ago – way back in the mists of time when Damascus was a tourist destination and Russia was our ally – few people had heard of Dropbox and the iPhone was still a breakthrough concept. A decade ago, when Pluto was a planet and Lehman Brothers was “too big to fail”, there was no Twitter, no iPlayer or Netflix streaming service, and MySpace was still the platform of choice for online socialising.

In short, not only have economic and geopolitical upheavals affected the way that we view the world, but evolving technologies have utterly changed the way that we think, live and work.

Most companies understand that, as more or less everything we do has shifted online and gone social, the way that we source, use and share information has become rapid and publicly visible. Many more realise that this makes issues such as security and storytelling more important than ever.

Fewer appreciate that that responding to these changes is not a self-contained act, like ordering business cards or switching your energy supplier. Without a genuine shift in the way that they see themselves and their relationship with their customers, these companies will be forever chasing their tails, always that little bit too far behind the times to seriously compete.

Over the next two weeks, we look at how to understand and harness social and technological trends in order to stay ahead of the curve. We’ll explore the potential of the cloud and the internet of things, of social media innovations and emerging technologies to streamline business functions and reduce costs while all the time opening up better ways to serve customers.

We’ll talk to ex-England Rugby coach Sir Clive Woodward about how data capture and analysis alters the way that teammates work together and take responsibility for their actions, we’ll meet companies that help SMEs to funnel financial information into proactive business plans, and we’ll look at projects that bring together engineers and artists to tackle urban problems in creative ways.

It’s going to be an exciting fortnight here at SME Insider and, as ever, we’d love to hear your input. Please tweet your ideas, predictions and examples of how you’re future-proofing your business to @SMEInsider with the hashtag #BizFutures.

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