Businesses often use a strategic tool called a ‘PEST analysis‘ to examine the opportunities and threats within their market due to political, economic, social and technological forces.

So what’s really happening out there in the competitive battlefield at the moment?

The biggest challenges for a business to succeed

Political forces

The ongoing uncertainty over Brexit and future trading deals as well as the uncertainty over the future of the economy post-lockdown are making many companies apprehensive about investing, instead choosing to put the breaks on many initiatives. Ahead of the UK’s official withdrawal, 31% of businesses said they’d already felt a negative impact, and 35% have delayed growth and investment plans because Brexit is making it hard for them to plan ahead. At the time of writing, the situation changing day-by-day if not hour-by-hour, the prognosis on the impact changes at an equally rapid pace.

At the other end of the spectrum, some businesses are busy planning for what they believe to be the impending apocalypse. Ahead of December’s election, enquiries for warehouse space soared 25% but three-quarters of warehouse owners claimed to have no space available due to the crazy stockpiling. With hindsight, one might wonder whether the start of the pandemic was already having an impact.

And then there’s the legal landscape to consider. While every industry has its own specific laws, others, like GDPR, apply to all. And after BA and Marriott faced record fines for their data breaches, it would seem that data privacy programmes are firmly back on the boardroom agenda.

But…

Rather than fear the political forces at play, you can set yourself up for success by embracing the cloud – and specifically by adopting a cloud first approach. 

Two of the biggest benefits that the cloud offers are greater business agility and greater security. 

By enabling organisations to respond more quickly to the changing market conditions, a cloud first approach enables your business to flex with ease, and 74% of organisations claim the cloud provides them with a competitive advantage. One of the biggest impacts that an agile operating model can provide a business with, is the ability to get their products/services to market quicker – and companies with cloud-based models report an average improvement of 21%.

Then when it comes to security, cloud infrastructures offer the best you can have because the advanced security features guarantee your data is securely stored and handled. Most cloud storage providers implement features, such as authentication, access control and encryption, as standard, before adding additional layers of protection on top. And you can’t ignore the importance of disaster recovery. With a cloud-based infrastructure all your data is backed up and readily available whenever you need it.

Economic forces

You’ve probably heard the phrase used 100 times – ‘do more with less’. It’s almost become the default command when organisations seek to claw back cost savings. But rather than take the ‘easy’ route and reduce headcount, in times of austerity, many organisations seek out smarter and more efficient ways of working to boost productivity.

The problem arises when the pressure put on individuals to perform pushes them to breaking point. In one study from Times Higher Education, it discovered that 41% of respondents said their increasing workloads were negatively affecting their mental health. And just because you’re working more, or harder, doesn’t actually mean you’re any more productive. In fact, research shows that as a workforce we’re only getting about 1.4% more productive per year, the lowest growth rate in 30 years.

But…

What if there were simple cost savings to be had, which didn’t require cutting corners or making your employees sick with stress?

Over half (54%) of CTOs believe that cloud computing is ‘very important’ to the success of their company over the next 12 months, with the key benefit cited as IT cost savings.

With a cloud-based infrastructure you only ever need to pay for what you use, because it scales up and down in line with your business requirements. Able to increase your cloud capacity at a moment’s notice, without having to secure hefty budgets for on-premise infrastructure, offers some pretty lucrative savings, an average:

  • 15% reduction in IT spending.
  • 16% reduction in operational costs.
  • 17% reduction in IT maintenance costs.

Social forces

We’ve previously discussed the 3 key trends that are driving the modern workplace: remote working, collaboration and work-life balance. 

Read: “What’s driving the modern workplace?”

It’s no co-incidence that these trends all centre around people. As increasing numbers of Millennials, and soon Gen Z, enter the workforce, they’re ideals and expectations are shaping what their working environment should look like. These are generations that have grown up in an always connected world, where technology is the ‘go-to’ answer for everything.

In business, your people are your biggest asset. Fail to treat them right and meet their demand and you will lose them to a competitor. Research published by Forbes indicates that 49% of Millennials would quit their current job in the next two years.

But…

Build a modern workplace, and you’ll secure the top talent your business needs to thrive in the digital age. Companies that promote collaborative working are 5x more likely to be high performing. And because this collaboration occurs within your organisation and with third-parties, all of whom can span the globe, facilitating remote workers is crucial. Remote working has grown by 115% since 2005, which is nearly 10x faster than the rest of the workforce. And remote workers are tech savvy – 40% of the UK working population now uses smartphones and tablets to perform their jobs.

The modern workplace gives you what you need to improve productivity, collaboration and employee engagement.

Technological forces

As we enter the 4th industrial revolution – the digital era – we’ve witnessed huge leaps in technology, from smartphone integration through to cloud computing. And yet many organisations are still reliant on out-dated infrastructure – on average, 31% of an organisation’s technology is made up of legacy systems.

Not only do these systems present a costly burden, they’re holding businesses back from reaching their full potential. Research from IDG shows that 64% of organisations blame their outdated and legacy infrastructure for impeding their digital transformation for the modern era, with 88% of CIOs claiming they’d had at least one digital project fail, been delayed or shrink in scope over the last 12 months because their legacy systems couldn’t support it. 

We’ve witnessed it ourselves. We often speak to businesses who have struggled to see the value in moving away from their legacy on-premise infrastructure, in favour of a more modern, business-friendly cloud-based approach. 

But…

If you do wish to set yourself up for success in order to grasp the new and exciting opportunities, it’s all about enabling digital transformation for your business

Digital transformation is all about using new technologies to solve business problems in new/different/interesting ways. Creating your version 3.0 will involve considering several elements, including leadership, people, agility, business integration, ecosystem and value derived from data – but it starts with replacing legacy IT in favour of more nimble and effective solutions. 

Done properly, digital transformation increases productivity, increases your workforce flexibility, and enables your employees to work in different ways – with benefits this attractive, it’s not hard to understand why 83% of senior execs are planning to increase investment in digital technologies in the next 12 months.

The world is forever changing

When you consider the opportunities and threats facing your business, it’s interesting to see how they’re all driven by technology…

To deal with political forces we establish processes, methodologies and solutions to give us the best possible insights and predictions, and through governance we try to de-risk investments… 

On the social front, we implement technologies for collaboration to increase productivity and help the team achieve more together…

But at the route of it all are the economic forces, because if the business doesn’t see the value, the change will never happen.

In a world where technologies are becoming more complex, Atech is perfectly positioned to help you stay ahead and navigate the ever-changing technology landscape – warning you to the risks of shadow IT, really understanding your IT spend and the value it actually delivers.

Why not discover more about how Atech can help you prepare for the digital age?