"High performers don’t just find themselves in the right place at the right time. They aggressively scan the horizon and act now to take advantage of opportunities and hedge against risk." Quote from "Trends: Back to the Future" – Sept 2008, Accenture.
The article presents a list of 14 trends along with Accenture's recommendation for each trend. The trends listed are wide and varied, but do include important trends that are causing macroeconomic shifts, upheaval in the business environment, concerns about sustainability and societal change.
To get to the 14 trends, Accenture tapped into 50 of their industry and technology SMEs to develop an initial list. Then, in order to get a fresh perspective and new ideas, they surveyed 3,000 new Accenture employees from locations around the world and at every level of the company. Finally, 14 trends and business imperatives identified here.
My summary of the trends listed in the report is provided below. As you will see, the focus of this trends list is more on current and emerging issues that are impacting businesses and not so much on on the impact of technology. The 14 trends are listed in the sequence with which they appeared in the article, which according to authors, is in order of the importance assigned to them by the participants in Accenture's research.
Here are the 14 trends along with the recommendations from Accenture on what to do about the trend.
1. The rapid rise of emerging-market multinationals. Heard of Emaar? Qatar Airways? WuXi PharmaTech? Mahindra & Mahindra? Accenture recommendations: 1) Prepare to compete against companies that are not even on your radar today. 2) Take options on new global business by forging links with select emerging multinationals.
2. The expansion of “shoring” options. Don't limit your options to just offshoring. Accenture recommendation: Develop a broad-based, blended model of outsourcing.
3. Increasing demand for corporate social responsibility. All stakeholders are expecting companies to be good corporate citizens by acting in a socially responsible manner. Accenture recommendations: 1) Research and prepare for new customer-driven corporate social responsibility requirements, and 2) Tie corporate social responsibility initiatives to the retention of top talent, as well as to hiring.
4. The need for abundant, secure supplies of talent, energy and other scarce resources. Business execs need access to limited resources. Accenture recommendations: 1) Turn scarcity into an opportunity, and 2) Launch a robust “talent pipeline” initiative to ensure a long-term supply of qualified employees.
5. National loyalties slowing the process of globalization. Accenture says that protectionist views and actions are on the rise throughout the world. Accenture recommendation: Develop a global mindset, not a rigid global corporate culture.
6. Social networking as a business tool. Accenture says that social networking is producing some striking benefits for the businesses that know how to use it. Accenture recommendation: Exploit the power of social networks for everything from hiring to R&D.
7. Increasing demand for sustainability. Accenture says businesses must match an approach to sustainability with proper expectations about the timing and scale of benefits. Accenture recommendation: Analyze different approaches and benefits to eco initiatives while avoiding self-serving “greenwashing.”
8. Major new sources of capital. Local and regional banks are the only sources of capital. Accenture recommendation: Understand how the new sources and flows of capital can offer advantages as well as risks.
9. High demand for new and better infrastructure. Infrastructure challenges (maintenance in developed world and building it in emerging markets) is a massive opportunity. Accenture recommendation: Evaluate the prospects for participation in infrastructure repairs, upgrades and development.
10. Rapid improvements in the delivery of government services. Technology is improving government responsiveness. Accenture recommendation: Follow best practices from the private sector to provide better “citizen-as-customer” solutions.
11. Rising consumerism in emerging markets; uneasy consumers in the West. Accenture says business need to target both developed and developing markets. Accenture recommendation: Capture the value of design, in both products and experiences.
12. Evolving sources of trustworthy information and advice. Businesses must figure out how to effectively capitalize on the trust they have built while at the same time protecting their hard-won reputations. Accenture recommendation: Turn your reputation for trustworthiness into revenue.
13. “Free” as a legitimate business model. Google has shown that offering services for free is a business model in its own right. Accenture recommendation: Decide what parts of your business you could profitably offer for free—and the parts competitors could give away before you do.
14. The rise of Africa as an important source of demand as well as supply. Africa's economy is waking up. Accenture recommendation: Map Africa’s new market opportunities in light of global competitors’ moves, while keeping an eye on infrastructure challenges and political conditions.
As mentioned above, you can access the full report here: "Trends: Back to The Future"