• Ben Leeson

Collective planning in unsettled times.

In the current times of the pandemic, businesses utilising cloud-based systems and other relevant tools are preparing themselves for growth in a new and reformed landscape.

Corporate planning is challenging and has escalated further as a result of the global health crisis. The pandemic has made strategic planning even more difficult due to the personal and economic changes, alterations to work, our lifestyles and the general transformation of everything.

MIT Technology Review Insights in collaboration with Oracle surveyed over 800 senior leaders across finance, supply chain, HR and technology. The report referred to as “Collaborative Planning in an Uncertain World” explores how global businesses perform strategic enterprise planning in these challenging conditions.

Many months have passed since the initial outbreak, but most businesses are still dealing with the initial challenges. The report explains that over half of businesses surveyed continue to deal with the current situation, focusing on areas such as staff availability and income flows. Organisations are beginning to look to the future and focus on implementing measures to enable their business to move forward. About a quarter are creating the necessary steps for a plan, and a further quarter is actively working towards a new plan. According to Oracle, 16% of businesses have reached a “reimagine the future” stage and 6% are now researching how their new direction could affect practical steps including standards and compliance.

Technology is recognised as a valuable asset in implementing these new planning measures. As a consequence of the pandemic, over half of the businesses accelerated their adoption of cloud technologies. For these organisations, the report believes they are 50% more likely to have addressed the pandemic challenges to business, the workforce and their customers.

The report indicates that AI and machine learning have gained further trust from larger businesses worldwide. Nearly three-quarters of respondents believe connected enterprise planning, a combination of financial, operations and workforce planning with cloud IoT, AI and analytics will enhance collaboration and the decision-making process.

All areas of a business have a role to play in planning for the future, including HR, Supply Chain and Finance. For collaboration to be a success, data cannot be distributed in silos across a business. Instead, the information needs to be consistent, accessible and reliable, creating key information that supports effective business planning and execution.

The approach to technology does vary between businesses. A small minority have reduced their use of cloud technologies as a consequence of the pandemic. This has resulted in challenges in terms of maintaining HR and finance data in separate silos, utilising conventional spreadsheets for data analysis, rather than adopting connected enterprise systems. This way of working may have impacts on the business, their insights and the generation of valuable information to determine the right decisions in such a critical time.

The path to recovery

While some businesses may have benefitted from the pandemic, most industries have had to endure several difficult decisions. Despite the challenges, we need to move forward and embrace the restructuring of the economic and social conditions in business and society.

Business and individuals are exploring options to enable further progress and how to manage other challenges such as handling new employee onboarding as the business develops.

The survey findings indicate that after the initial impact of the pandemic, most businesses have turned their attention now to planning and seeking a path to recovery and returning to a model of growth. The results suggest that the businesses that are showing more recognition towards cloud and advanced technologies like AI and machine learning are more likely to work through these challenges and reach this desired path towards success.

While it's difficult to control what events happen to us, we are capable of determining how they impact us and their effect on our development, from a personal and business perspective. The last year has forced us to look beyond traditional planning models and rethink our overall strategy for the future.

Collective planning in unsettled times
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