In today’s fast-moving world, companies face the challenge of staying ahead of the curve. With advances in cutting-edge artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML), the rise of the gig economy, an increased focus on sustainability, evolving customer preferences and more, the next decade is poised to bring significant shifts and challenges.

To remain competitive, companies must be flexible, innovative and proactive in adapting to these changes. In this article, we discuss how you can optimise your operating models to embrace these megatrends. From harnessing digital transformation and revamping processes and systems, to adopting digital twin technology and fostering a culture of innovation, we’ll explore some of the key elements necessary for companies to thrive in the years to come.

Megatrends shaping the future

  • The digital revolution

The exponential advancement in technology, powered by innovations like AI, ML, robotics and blockchain, is transforming the way work is done and is opening up new opportunities. This will lead to automated repetitive tasks, increased efficiency, reduced costs and enhanced customer service. Virtual and augmented reality technologies are also transforming the way we work and play, creating new opportunities for businesses to provide immersive experiences and enhance customer engagement. Blockchain technology is transforming various industries by providing secure and transparent transactions, eliminating intermediaries and improving supply chain management. Its decentralised system offers an opportunity to increase efficiency, reduce costs and improve data security.

  • Data-driven decision-making

    Leveraging big data analytics will provide greater insights and lead to better decisions. Companies will need to invest in upskilling and reskilling their workforce to adapt to these changes as traditional job roles are transformed and more technology-focused jobs emerge. 
  • Hyperconnectivity and the Internet of Things (IoT)

    New business models will be created based on data and analytics. Connected devices provide businesses with a wealth of data that can be analysed to make informed decisions. As the gig economy continues to grow, businesses will be more reliant on devices that connect them to their people. For example, if companies employ people on a zero-hours contract or a freelance basis, they will need to consider how to motivate and engage a diverse workforce and fully integrate it into their operations. Connectivity will also be hugely important for people management and HR delivery models of the future. 
  • Environmental responsibility

    This poses a significant challenge for companies in the future. Companies must reduce their carbon footprint and adopt sustainable practices, which will require significant changes in traditional business practices and investment in new technologies. 
  • Changing customer expectations 

    Driven by the rise of digital capability, customer experience is changing the way companies interact with their customers. Companies will need to closely track changing customer preferences and provide personalised, seamless and convenient experiences, investing in new technologies and processes to do so. 

To ensure competitiveness and long-term success, companies should embrace these trends and develop agile, efficient and effective operating models.

How to reimagine your operating models

Companies should take a proactive approach to examining their current processes, systems and organisational structures to assess if they align with their goals and future needs. They can use foresight and leverage digital twin technology (explored below) to adjust their operating models. Those that fail to adapt accordingly risk being left behind by those who do.

  • Build your roadmap for success

    The key to success in redesigning operating models lies in foresight and horizon-scanning. You must analyse future trends and challenges and develop a strategic roadmap with clear goals and objectives, using this information to make informed decisions about the future direction of the business. By taking a forward-looking approach, you can make changes to your operating models before market demands and technology advancements force you to.

    This roadmap should be informed by market research, customer insights and technological advancements. Regularly reviewing and updating the roadmap helps everyone to stay focused and aligned on priority areas that have maximum impact.
  • Work with digital twin technology 

    One effective strategy for adapting operating models for the future is digital twin technology. This innovative approach allows you to create virtual representations of your processes, systems and organisational structures. By visualising how these elements work and interact, you gain a clear understanding of your operations and how they can be improved. This information is invaluable in identifying areas for improvement and testing new ideas before implementing them in the real world. An excellent example of this is INVISTA’s use of Amazon’s digital twin technology to improve productivity and efficiency of their manufacturing operations, resulting in improved value for their customers.
  • Gain support from influencers and peers

    Transforming an operating model is an ongoing process that requires commitment from leadership. Leaders play a vital role in this: they must have a clear vision and strategy for the future and help their workforce understand how transformation will make it possible. 

    The challenge, however, is that some leaders may not realise the need for change. Some businesses are set in their ways and may not see the value in revisiting their operating models. So, how can you get peer buy-in and support?

    First, it’s crucial to make decision-makers aware of the need for change. By presenting examples of how industries are being impacted by emerging megatrends, you can help them understand why change is necessary.

    Next, you need to showcase the benefits of a transformed operating model and communicate its value clearly. This may include cost savings, increased productivity and better customer satisfaction. Additionally, you need to have influencers champion the change, whether they are employees who have seen the benefits first-hand or external experts who have successfully led similar transformations in other businesses.

    Providing clear roadmaps and specific milestones can also help gain leaders’ support. By doing this, peers can see how the transformation will align with the company’s overall strategy and benefit the business in the long term.

How to optimise your future operating models

Once your operating models have been adapted, let’s explore how they can be optimised for the future.

  • Embrace digital change and transformation

    Welcoming digital transformation and incorporating new technologies such as AI, cloud computing, IoT, big data and analytics can help streamline operations and improve efficiency. Walmart is a great example of this, having effectively leveraged AI and automation to improve their supply chain and market fulfilment centre for enhanced customer convenience and experience.
  • Keep a close eye on market trends and customer needs

    Regularly monitor these key indicators to ensure that you are adapting to changing demands. Collaborating with start-ups and technology partners to bring innovative solutions to market is another way to stay ahead of the competition. Uber is a great example of this, as they expand their partnership with Google to accelerate new revenue channels and create new and engaging customer experiences.
  • Foster a culture of innovation and creativity

    This means encouraging employees to embrace change, think outside the box and try new approaches. It also means investing in upskilling and reskilling the workforce to ensure that people have the necessary skills to succeed – for example, by implementing training programmes that keep employees up to date with the latest technologies and trends.
  • Lead by example

    Embrace change and technology, and champion a culture of innovation and continuous improvement. This gifts employees the freedom to think creatively and come up with new solutions that keep the company at the forefront of the industry. You should be proactive in making decisions and taking action. And let’s not forget the importance of promoting a diverse and inclusive workplace culture. By investing in your people and creating a workplace that’s inclusive of different perspectives, backgrounds and experiences, you can help your organisation optimise its operating models for success in the future.

Key takeaways

Businesses face a rapidly evolving future and must be bold and nimble. By anticipating the impact of advancing technology and other megatrends, you can proactively realign your operating models to remain competitive. 

Here are six key actions that will help you optimise your operations: 

  1. Conduct ongoing research to rethink and redesign your processes and systems. 
  2. Leverage available technology (such as digital twinning).
  3. Create and foster a culture of innovation. 
  4. Embrace digital transformation and invest in upskilling your workforce. 
  5. Invest in technology and digital talent. 
  6. Continuously monitor market trends and adapt your model where necessary. 

The future may be uncertain, but with a proactive and strategic approach, companies can be well positioned for success. Are you ready to take the steps needed to optimise your operating models for the future? Do you have the right tools and strategies in place to stay ahead of the curve and remain competitive? These are the questions that companies and leaders need to ask themselves as they look to the future.

your say

How have you adapted your operating models for the future? What do you see as the biggest game-changer? Join the discussion on our social channels using #FutureOfWork and tag us on Twitter: @CIPD or LinkedIn: @CIPD

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About the author

Natalie Sheils, Chief People Officer at Mosaic Group

Natalie is a seasoned HR strategist with a wealth of experience in global leadership and transformation. Her expertise lies in helping companies scale, develop high-performance human capital capability, foster innovation-driven cultures, and leverage the intersection of technology, data and people. As a renowned thought leader, speaker and content contributor in the HR and tech industry, Natalie shares insights on how companies and professionals can thrive in the digital era. Prior to joining Mosaic Group, IAC’s global mobile applications division, Natalie served as Global HR Director at Transfast, a Mastercard company providing cross-border payments network solutions to over 125 countries.

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