The huge Tsunami that hammered the coast of Sumatra, Indonesia in 2004 gave no warning.
Many were on the beaches and casually going about their day unaware that a deep sea earthquake had sent a shockwave that sent billions of tons of water racing toward the shores of the Indian Ocean at 500 MPH.
It was too late when those on the beach looked up and saw the wave that was so large that they had no time to escape. There was no warning.
We are facing a Tsunami of Change of even greater proportions in business. The drivers of change are forcing business leaders and individuals to rethink their strategic plans.
We have been working on some projects related to strategic business development. This has forced us to think long-term. The data on the changes that are about to break onto the shore of the business world will create massive changes in the business environment.
These changes can have a disastrous impact on your business; or, they can create gigantic opportunities.
Here is the short list of five major drivers of change in today's business environment.
Changing Marketplace Trends
1) Entrepreneurial Workforce
45 million Americans own a business. That is 20% of the workforce. Americans are now entrepreneurial intheir career perspective. They are more mobile and likely to change jobs or careers rapidly based on their circumstances and individual motivating factors. Loyalty to employers is minimal. Consider the cost associated with searching, screening, hiring, training and supporting an individual before ever realizing any return on investment from that person in their job function. Ask any CFO or senior human resource manager and they can tell you exactly how this issue impacts the bottom-line.
2) The Internet Age
The changes occurring in the way people live as a result of the Internet is only beginning. In most domains of human activity, massive paradigm shifts are being generated by this disruptive technology. 80% of all purchases in the U.S. start with an Internet search! The democratization of the music, film, and broadcasting industries is allowing both producers and consumers of content to bypass media centers to get what they want.
Major producers of big ticket products are scrambling to devise Internet strategies. Web developers are working overtime to meet the demands of rapidly changing business models.
3) Baby Boomer Exodus
The most notable pressure is the retirement exodus of the Baby Boomer generation. This group represents over seventy million people in the American workforce today that are entering retirement age between now and 2015. For some job classifications, over 50% of the work force is expected to retire within the next twelve months! While skills can be taught, the life experience of someone who has spent years in an industry or company and weathered multiple business cycles and market shifts isn't knowledge that is easily replaced or transferred. This will result in a huge deficit in skilled workers, wage inflation, and diminishing productivity.
4) Workforce Retention
Another catalytic trend emerging is the concept of "blending" one's professional and personal life. Americans by far put in more hours on the job than any other industrialized nation. The next generations of workers are much more interested in balanced living between their careers and personal interest, thereby challenging employers to think more holistically in developing their human resources strategies. You can only automate and outsource to a certain degree. Eventually, all organizations succeed or fail based on the quality of their people. In the twenty-first century people are interested in significance and lifestyle. Knowing what workers want and need will become even more important in the years ahead. This challenges organizations to seriously consider their employee hiring, development and retention strategies especially as the pool of talent becomes shallower.
"People are the greatest asset to any organization"
5) Globalization and competition
Here in the West, we seldom practice the art of long-term thinking. Everything is about how fast we can make things happen. We focus on short term gains that can allow us to flip to the next bigger better deal. However that isn't how our global competitors think. China, India and others are becoming economic super powers because their strategic thinking is fifty years or more down the road.
Japan's Toyota Motor Company is arguably the biggest automotive manufacturer in the world. That didn't just happen in the last few years, it was part of the vision they cast over forty years ago and they have stayed the course.
The companies that prepare themselves for the changes coming regarding these five trends will be positioned to take advantage of them better than their competition. Change management can no longer be reactive and passive, dealing with problems of change as they are required. Business leaders must learn to be to proactive in planning for the changes.
Human resources, marketing and sales divisions must be transformational in their planning regarding these trends.
These changes also imply that individuals should examine their future plans. What skills can you develop in an Internet-driven world that will make your visits to the bank be for deposits rather than withdrawals? What do you need to learn about the Internet that will position you well for the future? As Boomers retire, those who don't can be in demand if they have the skills and maturity
that businesses will need. If you don't want to retire, how can you position yourself to be at the forefront of that demand? How can you start an Internet-based business that does not require all of your time? Is there a business you can start that will serve the changing human resource needs of businesses?
Rapid change creates danger and opportunity. The Chinese character for both words is the same. The meaning depends upon the context of where it appears. That there will be massive changes in the business environment during the next few years cannot be questioned. The dangers are severe, but the opportunities are numerous. What will you do to position your business and yourself for those changes?
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