By Anne Weatherston, former CIO and management board member, ANZ Bank.
Business planning is never easy but planning 20 years ahead is more of an art than a science. This is particularly true given the rapidly changing world in which we now live. Statistics cited in Australia 2034 reinforce the value of long-term planning for all businesses which desire longevity. Of the top 100 Australian companies in the Australian Securities Exchange (ASX) in 1994 only 29 were still part of the index in 2013. The survival rate in other countries is no better.
While this book is aimed at Australian businesses, the messages are relevant for businesses everywhere. In the wake of the global economic crisis, the world is still struggling to find stable growth, and after 20 years of growth, Australia is now facing a similar challenge. Doing more of the same will not be enough.
For long-term success the key messages are clear: Asia matters, but to succeed, Australian businesses must be clear about its value proposition and recognize that this it is not a monolith, but 27 very different countries with individual cultures. Successful businesses will be those that recognize and acknowledge local cultures and understand the concept of shared value creation; notably, that there is a direct correlation between a company’s success and the health of related communities, including suppliers, customers, employees and shareholders.
The importance of a focus on value will be particularly true with respect to the customer. Tomorrow’s customers will expect products and services relevant to their specific lifestyles. Achieving these outcomes will require a very different approach to business management. Organizations that succeed will be those that understand and accept that change is a constant.
This means businesses will have to be agile, with a focus on ongoing improvement, a passion for productivity and continuous use of analytics to ensure that customer and organizational dynamics are understood and that the organization can respond appropriately. This is not a world in which businesses can stand still.
Australia 2034 provides many case studies of companies, both those that have recognized and adapted to the changes around them, and those that have failed to do so, outlining the consequences. For all those business leaders who have identified the challenge but are struggling to know how to tackle it, this book provides a practical approach to the steps required. As the book concludes: the future will be inherently uncertain, so businesses need to arm themselves with the necessary capabilities to navigate uncertainty. Reading Australia 2034 is an essential first step towards a more certain future.
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