By Robert Douglas, Europe Planning Director at Adaptive Insights, a Workday company
Planning and execution are the base elements of progress, serving as the framework through which almost every human endeavour – great or small – have been willed into existence. Whether it is building a wonder of the ancient world, or developing the building blocks of the internet, individuals, teams and organisations tend to carry out planning and execution in the same way. By defining strategic goals, allocating resources towards those goals and measuring those resources delivered, results can be analysed in order to improve future strategies.
The rise and perseverance of static planning
Throughout the 20th century the biggest, most successful companies all planned and executed annual corporate strategy in broadly the same way. Once a year, senior executives gathered to define and agree on the company’s goals, plan activities and allocate budget towards them for the next year. These plans then cascaded downwards, throughout functions and regions, for the whole organisation to act in unison, executing the strategy en masse. Functions and regions then reported their performance upwards, and those same senior executives reconvened, measured progress and started the whole process over again. This “rinse and repeat” process seemed instinctual, or even natural, to most.
However, in most businesses, this entrenched a static process―plan, execute, plan again―that over time produces rigid and inflexible plans based on infrequent snapshots that are often out of date before they are finalised. The inefficiencies of this process began to show as the business world fully emerged itself into the digital age towards the turn of the millennium. With the world getting increasingly flat, fast, and data-driven, and the computing infrastructure on which almost every business operates becoming increasingly compartmentalised, commodified, and outsourced as a managed service, the plan, execute, plan again sequence has proven unable to keep up.
Need for speed
Organisations that quickly understood the need for fast-paced and agile planning infrastructures have been pulling away from the pack. For example, Southwest Airlines remained growing and profitable throughout the 2008 crash (and subsequent fluctuations in oil price), as its competitors languished by making quick, smart bets on strategies like fuel hedging, a stringent hiring process, and removing baggage fees. New, lean start-ups, such as Facebook quickly displaced established social media players by being nimble, capturing and leveraging data to create new monetisation models instead of falling back on classic planning and professional management styles used by News Corp that failed to innovate following its Myspace buyout.
The pace, scale and breadth of technology change over the last few decades has been one of the most profound accelerants of progress in human history. Globalisation, fast and ubiquitous connectivity, digital transformation and an explosion of data have made the ways we trade, travel, communicate and work together almost unrecognisable from those only a couple of generations ago. The same goes for how organisations plan their finances, where traditional boundaries of linear planning and execution have been converging at considerable pace.
Adapt – or fail
Over the past decades, long established markets and industries have been disrupted and replaced as manual processes and analogue workflows have given way to sophisticated digital systems and solutions. Gradually, the old guard found themselves in a busier and more complex competitive environment, edged out by younger, more agile, data-rich challengers. For example, a two-person start-up running out of a bedroom can today rent the same full stack technology infrastructure as the biggest businesses on the planet on a pay-as-you-go monthly subscription.
While many legacy enterprises might have been slow to adapt to this burgeoning data and analytics economy that has sprung up, matured, and quickly eclipsed everything surrounding it, it is important to note that it is never too late to start transitioning. There is no denying that updating a business’ planning infrastructure relies on large, sometimes intimidating, investments and technical headaches that many will want to avoid. However, the need for such transitions has stimulated a market for managed cloud services that can carry some of the heaviest load, allowing analysts and accountants to use their expertise effectively and engage in the active and agile planning that is so badly needed in today’s fast-paced world.
The inevitability of agility
Predicting the future is always risky business and the need for active, agile, and augmented planning is clear. Markets are only going to become more competitive, and the business agility that an active planning process offers is going to move from being a nice-to-have differentiator to a deciding factor between those that survive and those that wish they had. While every business will face this radical change in how planning and execution needs to be approached in its own unique way, successful companies will recognise that now is the time to make a change.
Sunak to use budget to expand apprenticeships in England
LONDON (Reuters) – British finance minister Rishi Sunak will announce more funding for apprenticeships in England when he unveils his budget next week, the government said on Friday.
Employers taking part in the Apprenticeship Initiative Scheme will from April 1 receive 3,000 pounds ($4,179) for each apprentice hired, regardless of age – an increase on current grants of between 1,500 and 2,000 pounds depending on age.
The scheme will extended by six months until the end of September, the finance ministry said.
Sunak will also announce an extra 126 million pounds for traineeships for up to 43,000 placements.
Sunak’s March 3 budget will likely include a new round of spending to prop up the economy during what he hopes will be the last phase of lockdown, but he will also probably signal tax rises ahead to plug the huge hole in the public finances.
Sunak is also expected to announce a “flexi-job” apprenticeship scheme, whereby apprentices can join an agency and work for multiple employers in one sector, the finance ministry said.
“We know there’s more to do and it’s vital this continues throughout the next stage of our recovery, which is why I’m boosting support for these programmes, helping jobseekers and employers alike,” Sunak said in a statement.
(Reporting by Andy Bruce, editing by David Milliken)
UK seeks G7 consensus on digital competition after Facebook blackout
LONDON (Reuters) – Britain is seeking to build a consensus among G7 nations on how to stop large technology companies exploiting their dominance, warning that there can be no repeat of Facebook’s one-week media blackout in Australia.
Facebook’s row with the Australian government over payment for local news, although now resolved, has increased international focus on the power wielded by tech corporations.
“We will hold these companies to account and bridge the gap between what they say they do and what happens in practice,” Britain’s digital minister Oliver Dowden said on Friday.
“We will prevent these firms from exploiting their dominance to the detriment of people and the businesses that rely on them.”
Dowden said recent events had strengthened his view that digital markets did not currently function properly.
He spoke after a meeting with Facebook’s Vice-President for Global Affairs, Nick Clegg, a former British deputy prime minister.
“I put these concerns to Facebook and set out our interest in levelling the playing field to enable proper commercial relationships to be formed. We must avoid such nuclear options being taken again,” Dowden said in a statement.
Facebook said in a statement that the call had been constructive, and that it had already struck commercial deals with most major publishers in Britain.
“Nick strongly agreed with the Secretary of Stateâ€™s (Dowden’s) assertion that the governmentâ€™s general preference is for companies to enter freely into proper commercial relationships with each other,” a Facebook spokesman said.
Britain will host a meeting of G7 leaders in June.
It is seeking to build consensus there for coordinated action toward “promoting competitive, innovative digital markets while protecting the free speech and journalism that underpin our democracy and precious liberties,” Dowden said.
The G7 comprises the United States, Japan, Britain, Germany, France, Italy and Canada, but Australia has also been invited.
Britain is working on a new competition regime aimed at giving consumers more control over their data, and introducing legislation that could regulate social media platforms to prevent the spread of illegal or extremist content and bullying.
(Reporting by William James; Editing by Gareth Jones and John Stonestreet)
Britain to offer fast-track visas to bolster fintechs after Brexit
By Huw Jones
LONDON (Reuters) – Britain said on Friday it would offer a fast-track visa scheme for jobs at high-growth companies after a government-backed review warned that financial technology firms will struggle with Brexit and tougher competition for global talent.
Finance minister Rishi Sunak said that now Britain has left the European Union, it wants to make sure its immigration system helps businesses attract the best hires.
“This new fast-track scale-up stream will make it easier for fintech firms to recruit innovators and job creators, who will help them grow,” Sunak said in a statement.
Over 40% of fintech staff in Britain come from overseas, and the new visa scheme, open to migrants with job offers at high-growth firms that are scaling up, will start in March 2022.
Brexit cut fintechs’ access to the EU single market and made it far harder to employ staff from the bloc, leaving Britain less attractive for the industry.
The review published on Friday and headed by Ron Kalifa, former CEO of payments fintech Worldpay, set out a “strategy and delivery model” that also includes a new 1 billion pound ($1.39 billion) start-up fund.
“It’s about underpinning financial services and our place in the world, and bringing innovation into mainstream banking,” Kalifa told Reuters.
Britain has a 10% share of the global fintech market, generating 11 billion pounds ($15.6 billion) in revenue.
The review said Brexit, heavy investment in fintech by Australia, Canada and Singapore, and the need to be nimbler as COVID-19 accelerates digitalisation of finance, all mean the sector’s future in Britain is not assured.
It also recommends more flexible listing rules for fintechs to catch up with New York.
“We recognise the need to make the UK attractive a more attractive location for IPOs,” said Britain’s financial services minister John Glen, adding that a separate review on listings rules would be published shortly.
“Those findings, along with Ron’s report today, should provide an excellent evidence base for further reform.”
Britain pioneered “sandboxes” to allow fintechs to test products on real consumers under supervision, and the review says regulators should move to the next stage and set up “scale-boxes” to help fintechs navigate red tape to grow.
“It’s a question of knowing who to call when there’s a problem,” said Kay Swinburne, vice chair of financial services at consultants KPMG and a contributor to the review.
A UK fintech wanting to serve EU clients would have to open a hub in the bloc, an expensive undertaking for a start-up.
“Leaving the EU and access to the single market going away is a big deal, so the UK has to do something significant to make fintechs stay here,” Swinburne said.
The review seeks to join the dots on fintech policy across government departments and regulators, and marshal private sector efforts under a new Centre for Finance, Innovation and Technology (CFIT).
“There is no framework but bits of individual policies, and nowhere does it come together,” said Rachel Kent, a lawyer at Hogan Lovells and contributor to the review.
($1 = 0.7064 pounds)
(Reporting by Huw Jones; editing by Jane Merriman and John Stonestreet)
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