Digitization, sustainability among characteristics of future businesses

Analysis

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On behalf of Vodafone, the research institute of London School of Economics (LSE) has examined more than 2,500 Fit for the Future (FFTF) companies in 11 countries regarding their resilience and adaptability among others.

Research has shown that the number of FFTF businesses is on the rise globally. These businesses address the challenges of the future, are more competitive, are open to digital solutions, it is important for them to operate sustainably, and are able to satisfy the increasing needs of consumers and changing employee expectations in a timely manner.

In light of the study, the group of Fit for the Future enterprises included companies that meet the six characteristics – e.g., openness to new technologies, positive attitude to changes that are most closely related to confidence in future financial performance, and preparedness for the future.

Vodafone's study showed that the majority (94%) of FFTF businesses believed they were well-prepared for the risks facing them, compared to only 58% of respondents overall. Moreover, 82% of FFTF businesses said their business continuity plan worked well. The research conducted by LSE has found a link between preparedness for the future and business performance. Organizations that registered a 10-point increase in their FFTF score were more likely to outperform their competitors by 36%.

Ultimately, FFTF businesses are more confident and well-prepared for emerging challenges and are better placed to respond quickly to evolving employee and customer demands.

"Research clearly shows that the transformation is huge on both employers' and employees' sides and the market is fundamentally changing – however, the vast majority of Fit for the Future enterprises are prepared for new challenges, thus being more likely to outperform their competitors," says Mátyás Dobó, director of Vodafone Hungary's Enterprise Business Unit. "At the same time, digitalization is undoubtedly essential to meet the growing need for flexibility and competitiveness. Our task as a technology company is to support domestic businesses with our innovative solutions and our reliable and strong network to enable them to be Fit for the Future."

Digital transformation

The report also highlighted that FFTF companies are open to new digital solutions, the majority (89%) have created a clear roadmap for digital transformation, compared to just 60% of businesses in general. This preparation has meant an advantage for FFTF businesses to tackle the pandemic, since it has allowed 71% of them to accelerate their digitalization processes, compared to around half of businesses (55%) in general. Globally, some 80% of FFTF businesses are very optimistic about at least one of the future technologies tested, compared to 66% of all businesses.

Ambition for sustainability

Despite the many challenges that businesses have faced in the last 18 months, FFTF businesses have remained in tune with the growing consumer demand for brands to take an ethical stance on social issues. About 69% of FFTF businesses believe sustainability has become more important to their organizations during the pandemic. Some 38% of FFTF businesses view sustainability as “especially important”, which was almost twice the number of general businesses that held the same belief (21%).

This trend looks set to continue, with over half (51%) of FFTF businesses planning to increase their spending on sustainable operations and corporate social responsibility (CSR) in the next year, according to the study.

Evolving employee expectations

It is not just customers whose expectations have risen; employees also expect more from their employers, including more flexibility and remote working. Their expectations have become greater on working with the freedom and autonomy that best suits them, including the flexibility regarding the working hours.

This is especially true for Gen-Z employees, as 57% of businesses find this generation having a greater expectation on flexibility to choose where they work.

The full Fit for the Future Report is available here.

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