“Future business is about sustainable success, in every sense. Delivering sustainable success requires a change in focus, from the short term to the long term. From the next quarter’s share price, or the next year’s performance, to the future success of the brand and all that implies. Thinking about future business implies a shift in behaviour. It drives changes in strategy, structure, behaviour, employment and more.
Collected on this page is a variety of my work on future business, including conference talks, blog posts, and reports. If you are looking for a speaker, commentator, writer or expert on the future of business, then drop me a line via the contact form. Or just read on to find out more about how business will grow and thrive in tomorrow’s world.“
Tom Cheesewright talking about banking, customer experience and future business at the EFMA CCX forum in Barcelona, 2019
Future Business: Finance
“Many businesses have under-invested in their finance function. Finance was the birthplace of IT. Yet finance professionals are often stuck in a vicious cycle of never-ending manual processes. They are drowning in interconnected spreadsheets. Finance used to be the home of insight into the business. Today, sales and marketing functions often have better tools of analysis.
The finance function faces some of the greatest challenges from automation in coming years, but it also has some of the greatest opportunities. Future-ready finance leaders are using automation to extract their staff from the drudgery of mechanical processes and focus them on the future.
Future business is about the ability to derive insight from rapid re-forecasting in near real-time. It’s about turning compliance from a process into state, where every critical figure is a single click away. Finance is the home of truth in business. If it is to maintain that title in future business, then change is required today.”
Defining the Future of Finance
“Working with Canadian finance software leader Prophix, I developed a series of reports and educational tools for CFOs, FDs and other finance leaders, to make their organisations future-ready. This translated into keynotes and workshops at the company’s annual user conferences in Toronto and Nashville, and a popular series of after-dinner talks for finance leaders across the UK.”
Future Business: Retail
“The high street is dead. The only question is what we do with the corpse.
This may sound dramatic but the property and retail industries have come to accept that the high street as we knew it is gone. Critical product classes have been digitised. Online is just a better fit for other product classes than high street stores.
This doesn’t mean the end of shops though. As my research with Salesforce showed, people still love shopping and they want to do it in a physical context. They want to try clothes on, check the quality of goods, and perhaps most importantly, socialise and engage with other people.
The challenge for the retail industry and those operating a property portfolio, whether public or private, is how they respond to this changing world. The online paradigm is shifting constantly. In the bricks and mortar world, it’s time to be brave and define what’s next.”
In 2016, Tom worked with Salesforce Commerce Cloud (then ‘Demandware’) to produce a series of reports on the future of retail, looking at Millennial behaviour, online shopping trends, and underlying operational challenges. You can download a copy of the report here.
Networks not monoliths
“For generations, business leaders have been focused on optimisation. How do they do better tomorrow, what they did today? In this context, ‘better’ usually means growth or improved margins. In an age of high frequency change, this focus becomes dangerous. Optimisation locks in today’s business model and takes focus away from the new goal: adaptation. How do we map tomorrow’s proposition to the customer’s changing needs?
Achieving adaptability requires a fundamental change in the way that businesses operate, down to their very structure. Future-ready businesses accept that there is an overhead to agility and devote time to open-minded consideration of the future. They streamline information flows and distribute power so that they can react fast to the market environment. And they break their organisations into networks of semi-autonomous units that can be broken down and reassembled to meet each new challenge.”
Future Business Skills: Foresight
“Businesses are surprisingly terrible at planning, over the short, medium, and long term.
Short term planning tends to be business as usual, with the budget becoming a substitute for a considered strategy. Even where there is a strategy, my research with Prophix shows that in two thirds of organisations, budget and strategy don’t align or only align at the highest level. When this is case, the strategy is nothing but a hollow ambition.
Medium term planning tends to only happen when there is an external stimulus, often a negative event. Now the organisation goes into panic mode and eyes are opened. Restructuring, rescue, and downsizing in response to something that could have been seen in advance and turned to the organisation’s advantage.
Long term planning is all-too-often an excuse to get the leadership team off site to a hotel that has a nice golf course. A day of pinning post-it notes to walls can be very valuable, but most organisations can only afford the time out every few years. In between sessions, threats can creep up and opportunities can be passed by.
Foresight needs to be a core management discipline, with time devoted to formalised scanning of the near horizon every six months.”
Does your organisation need better foresight? Tom teaches foresight and agility for business in a one-day course for leaders and people on an executive track. Get in touch to find out upcoming dates or to organise a bespoke course for your organisation.
Get in touch
Interested in engaging Tom around a project on the future of business? Get in touch via this form and someone will be back to you as soon as possible. Please provide as many details as you can about the project: is it speaking, writing, consulting or broadcasting – or maybe something else? What’s your timescale?
Future Business: Blog Posts
Future Business Clients
“Future Business is the primary concern of many of my clients, from industry bodies, to technology providers, and from government to global enterprises.
If you think I can help you, as a keynote futurist speaker at your event, as a part of your future marketing campaigns, or as a consultant on your future business strategy, please get in touch.”