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With the new year coming up, businesses are gearing up for the last minute Christmas rush and then a well deserved holiday. The end of the year is a time of reflection and relaxation- a time to really be proud of our achievements and plan for the year ahead. 

But, with so many options it can be a quite stressful for businesses to note the best opportunities for them in the new year. Dynamic Business asked experts what the New Year holds for businesses and what opportunities are in store?

Joan Lurie, CEO, Orgonomix:

In 2018, we saw the culture of ‘blaming the CEO’ on the rise. When there is conflict, dissonance or underperformance in an organisation, we assume that there is a problem with the person, be it their values, their personality, style, competence or ‘bias’.

For the new year, business leaders need to analyse their organisation through a ‘systemic’ lens.

We have a multi-billion-dollar leadership development and change industry mostly based on interpersonal, psychological and technical assumptions. Human and Technical Capital, the ‘fill and fix’ model is how I describe it. The research tells us that we only get a 20% return on this investment, and yet we continue to use the same thinking, approaches and methods.

The time has come to reframe our dominant assumptions and develop a new map for leadership and change in our organisations.

In applying a systemic lens to view problems facing their organisation, businesses can create very different outcomes and results both for the people, as well as for the organisations’ culture and ability to perform and thrive in 2019.

Businesses looking to take advantage of opportunities in the new year should adopt the following approaches.

1. Build adaptive capacity into the organisation – create new rituals and ways of working which enable the organisation to keep reviewing their products and services and to see how the system is functioning to keep operating at their edge.

2. Understand how to help leaders develop internal capacity to match and navigate the complexity of internal and external contexts.

3. Develop three mindsets – adaptive, systemic and growth mindsets to ensure the organisation is constantly learning and iterating their way forward.

Alex Alexandrou, General Manager, Reckon:

Small businesses can become nimbler by using alternative loan providers. Despite dominating the SMB lending market, the large banks take weeks to process loans and require heaps of information, potentially leading to missed opportunities. On the other hand, smaller providers can send money in a matter of days and operate simpler vetting processes.

Loans from alternative providers are also set to get cheaper in 2019. The Australian government announced $2 billion to help smaller loan providers secure funds at cheaper rates and pass these savings to customers. As loans from alternative lenders drop, this will tempt more small businesses away from the banks. SMBs that take advantage of alternative loans will find it easier to fund growth projects and fill gaps in their cashflow. Those that have struggled to raise funds from major banks can find better deals elsewhere.

Ryan Burke, Head of International, InVision:

In today’s world, industries can be disrupted by the swipe of a thumb as digital touch points and user experience becomes increasingly the differentiator in business. Throughout 2019 we’ll see this intensify as more and more companies become digital product companies – whether they want to or not.

Consumers are demanding functional, well-designed digital products, and every company–regardless of whether they are a bank, a retailer or software company–must be ready to embrace this shift.

Good design isn’t just nice to have in business, it’s a must-have. Industry research mirrors this, with a recent McKinsey report showcasing a direct correlation between those ranking high in design index scores and superior business performance. In fact, when done correctly, embedding design within the decision-making process of a business can lead to positive financial impacts.

In short, design will become one of the most valuable ways for businesses to maintain their edge in increasingly competitive markets.

So how do we draw the maximum benefit from what good design has to offer? It’s vital that organisations provide designers with a strategic seat at the table. Their voices need to be heard louder than they currently are. The opportunity lies within businesses realising the potential that designers can bring to the table outside of just a pretty website. And with this seat comes a price: demonstrating the commercial value of design. Companies that embrace, define, and measure this value will distance themselves from competitors in 2019.

Nicole Gorton, Director, Robert Half Australia:

The start of the new calendar year is seen as a quiet month for many businesses, with team members and customers often away on holidays. While this is typically a slow month on the business calendar, the new year provides the perfect opportunity for those looking to get ahead. For some businesses this means a change in your team structure or new hires as needed. Or that you now have time to review your staff remuneration, benefits and other workplace incentive schemes, or to set a succession plan in place.

As new budgets roll in for January, if you’ve determined you need to hire, then your proactive approach will mean you’re a step ahead of the competition and less likely to miss out on top talent. Most workers take stock in January and set resolutions for the year ahead. For some, this will involve searching for a new role. Get ready to capitalise on the rise in jobseekers by knowing which areas of your business are growing fastest, or which area needs more resources, and what budget you have available for new hires.

Remember to also look internally as part of your assessment. Have any of your employees expressed interest, or shown exceptional calibre in their role? Use January to help map out specific and measurable career goals with your staff and put a timeline in place to help them achieving their goals.

Now is also a great time to take stock of your succession plan. Who within the business would take over if a senior leader left? How are you developing employees that show the talent, capability and motivation to drive the business in the future? It’s a good idea to always keep note of rising talent within your organisation  to ensure your organisation is always led by the best people.

Peter Wright, Managing Director of Enterprise, Arq Group:

Next year presents a huge opportunity for organisations to extend data driven decision making across their whole business. While organisations already use detailed data to inform their strategies and drive operational performance, in 2019 there will be greater capability than ever before to unlock much more targeted insights in real-time.

This presents a major advantage for businesses to be able to be more impactful and precise. By applying machine learning and artificial intelligence techniques, organisations can meet the shifting expectations of their customers faster than ever before.

Previously, the tools to drive data-driven decision making were complex to use and configure. In 2019, we’ll see tools that are much more intuitive, and partners that can quickly configure these tools to address specific needs. That means changes to data-driven decision making across a business is now limited by cultural change, rather than complexity of technology.

Organisations that take up this challenge will find themselves with a much stronger competitive advantage as markets increasingly move towards a highly personalised, on-demand business model.

Rafael Moyano, CEO, The Adecco Group:

Businesses can look beyond stereotypes to expand their candidate pool in 2019. While industries such as construction and mining are experiencing a skills gap, they have very few women in their workforce. Those that appeal to a more diverse range of individuals will gain access to an untapped talent source, while introducing new ways of thinking.

Many companies start by having a set quota, but this must be accompanied by structural change. Strict polices on harassment and discrimination are key to a safe work environment, while recruitment processes must consider social influences on education and work experience. Benefits such as flexible and remote working are particularly important for attracting Australian women, who statistically still take the bulk of childcare responsibilities.

As diversity increases, successful employees that live outside the usual mould can become excellent catalysts for further diversity. By including these role models in promotional campaigns, and allowing them to mentor junior staff, others can better see themselves in the same position.

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Gali Blacher

Gali Blacher

Gali Blacher, editor, Dynamic Business

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