In today’s current economic and political climate, how can organisations balance mitigating potential risks brought about by the EU referendum with maintaining any competitive advantage they’ve built up? Benno Wasserstein explores.
“More than four months on from the referendum that saw the UK choose to leave the EU, CFOs remain cautious, and focused on the risks and uncertainties generated by Brext. As a result, initiatives aimed at driving efficiencies and saving cost dominate business strategies,” says Benno Wasserstein, Managing Director at award-winning software development consultancy Box UK. “At the same time though, we’re seeing a growing number of CFOs looking to expand their product ranges and reach; highlighting the delicate balancing act organisations must engage in to survive and thrive in this unpredictable time.”
This view is underlined by a new CFO survey from Deloitte, which reveals that confidence within this group remains subdued following June’s referendum with 88% of finance officers reporting that their business is facing abnormally high levels of uncertainty; a drop from 92% in the immediate aftermath of the vote, but still among the highest figures since 2012. Unsurprisingly then reducing costs and increasing cash are ranked as top priorities for CFOs, having grown in importance over the last quarter. However, there has also been a strong rise in the percentage of CFOs who rate introducing new products and services, or expanding into new markets as a strategic concern.
Benno continues: “As was noted in the Box UK article published directly following the Brexit decision, at times like these it can be tempting for organisations to halt activity altogether until more is known, but this is often the worst course of action to take. Indeed, in choosing to do nothing, organisations put themselves at risk of being overtaken by more aggressive competitors, and/or disrupted from outside of their own marketplace, where the same risks may not be as keenly felt.”
An increasing awareness of these concerns has been further reinforced by a study of senior-level professionals conducted by Verizon, which found that the majority of respondents (68%) believe their organisations are vulnerable to disruption at the hands of their competitors’ digital strategies. Furthermore, less than a quarter of respondents (23%) think that they are ahead of the digital acceleration curve, with 59% describing their organisation’s digital strategies as “reactive”.
“Consequently, the ‘test-and-learn’ approach I spoke about in the last State of the Industry piece is being embraced by a growing number of organisations, enabling them to respond to emerging user needs and business opportunities in a timely fashion, and avoid sinking further investment into unproductive activities,” Benno continues. “This trend has been highlighted by Box UK’s Business Development Director Matt Brooks in his recent blog post, and was also evident in many of the conversations being had at Econsultancy’s most recent Digital Cream event.”
“Fail, but fail fast, and at low cost. Then learn, try again, and succeed.”
- Econsultancy Digital Cream participant
“We’ve also seen demand for this way of working rise among our own clients at Box UK, and have used Agile methodologies to great effect in this area - facilitating rapid, iterative development while maintaining control over the overarching strategic roadmap. For example, working in an Agile way with leading global risk management software provider Risk Decisions enabled us to create a product built around real-world user needs and behaviours; additionally, we delivered a responsively-retrofitted site for Investec Asset Management in just 24 weeks with the help of the framework.
“To keep up with appetite, we have also further extended our range of Agile Coaching services, and created a range of exciting new resources to help individuals get to grips with the core principles of the methodology. This includes white papers aimed at organisations across all industries, along with fun and engaging games; two members of our team also gave talks at this year’s Agile Cymru event, which brought together leading practitioners from across the globe.
“This commitment to helping our clients get the most out of Agile, as well as supporting the wider community, has seen us nominated for Agile Consultancy of the Year (SME) in the Agile Awards 2016. This continues our impressive run of award wins over the last six months - during which we have been honoured by prestigious bodies including Investors in People, the Communicator Awards and the European Software Testing Awards - and the team is looking forward to building on this success to deliver further great results for the organisations we serve.”
For more information on the ways in which Box UK can help your organisation, visit the What We Do section of our website or get in touch. For interviews with Benno Wasserstein about the Box UK business, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.