In today’s shifting landscape, traditional business models are quickly becoming outdated and new models are constantly emerging, many of which focus on fluidity and flexibility. This is creating fresh challenges, conflicts, and opportunities for organisations.

So, how can businesses best equip themselves to build out a flexible and adaptable model in today’s technological environment? Here are some points to consider:

Support operational flexibility

Perhaps the most striking feature of today’s technological landscape is its pace of change. The question every manager is concerned with is not how to adapt to change after it occurs, but how to prepare for changes on the horizon. In a rapidly changing environment such as this, the most important traits are agility and adaptability.

Senior decision makers must ensure that information systems are set up to support operational flexibility. The infrastructure of an organisation’s information systems should be easily scalable, allowing the business to adapt and evolve, and certainly should not stand in the way of growth or change.

To this end, it is important to implement core systems that will meet an organisation’s needs not only in the present but also in the future, without knowing precisely what these needs will be. Best-in-class ERP solutions, for instance, enable changes to processes and business rules with immediate effect. They also harness standard APIs that allow interfacing with applications and external technologies such as IoT sensors. This allows the workforce to conduct tasks from a variety of platforms and devices, from any location.

Alongside technological transformation, businesses must also be prepared for the predicted transformation of organisational structures. In future, it’s expected that businesses will employ only a few regular staff, assisted by a team of freelancers, ad hoc project managers, and many part-time employees, most of whom will work remotely. The internal structure of a business will become far less rigid, moving towards a model that looks more like a loose and flexible network. Supporting a flexible business culture will be vital for the longevity of any business.

Emerging technologies are friends, not foes

CEOs and business owners have a lot to gain from the early adoption of intelligent technologies. They have the potential to enable enhanced performance, efficient resource utilisation, and informed decision-making.

To maintain a competitive advantage, it is important that business leaders suppress their fears and embrace cutting edge technologies. Managers must take care to instill a commitment to embracing change across the whole organisation, encouraging innovative initiatives and ensuring employees take an active role in shaping new processes.

Businesses will also need to think about how technology will disrupt traditional practices. For example, over the next two decades, autonomous vehicles will fundamentally change how goods and people are transported from place to place. Understanding the impact of these changes on the way a business operates, and the ways ERP solutions can ease this transition, is critical.

Doomsday narratives surrounding the implementation of AI in the workplace are fueled by the misconception that humans and machines cannot work alongside each other. In truth, the most innovative companies create synergistic scenarios in which robots perform routine work tasks and data processing, and human workers focus on more complex tasks. These include job scenario management, strategy development, customer focus and long-term thinking.

Process automation and emerging technologies are friends, not foes, to business. Organisations must turn their attention to how the workplace will change as a result of their introduction, and prepare the workforce for a future in which they’ll work alongside advanced technologies.

Compliance is King

Today, consumers are hypersensitive about how their data is stored and processed, and organisations cannot afford to take any chances with data access control. Equipping a business with the tools to adapt to new regulations as and when they arrive will ensure it’s able to stay compliant.

Regulation compliance is of real importance to businesses, especially following the slew of fines dished out this year by the Information Commissioners Office. Failing to align with regulation—such as GDPR, VAT or the upcoming MTD (Making Tax Digital)—can prove damaging to security, consumer trust and the bottom line.

GDPR, for example, is all about keeping track of data, which can become a complex task if it’s arriving for various different sources, and is stored in numerous different places. Investing in technology that can centralise data, such as an ERP system, will greatly simplify this process.

Handling data according to strict processes, ensuring security and auditability, is a must. Technologies allowing businesses to conduct these processes simply and quickly, whilst remaining compliant, will prove invaluable.

Companies able to champion agility and adaptability are setting themselves up for success in today’s ever-shifting business landscape. The key to unlocking the potential of a business is to equip the workforce with the tools they need to work efficiently, and to adapt to the increasing integration of new technologies and automation. Organisational flexibility will lay the foundations for these inevitable changes, securing the future success and longevity of the business.