Report urges firms to plan ahead

Jan 06, 2009

The report examines how businesses in the UK understand and plan for the future. It was prepared after surveying 600 business owners and senior managers about their company’s ability to understand the future external environment in which they will operate.

According to the research, 36% of businesses do not analyse the future external environment at all, while 25% of directors said they have lost potential revenue and profit due to a lack of analysis around future operating environments.

Nationally, the figure stands at 25% of businesses not presently analysing the future external environment, the equivalent of 500,000 enterprises.

The Forward Thinking Report offers extensive recommendations on how companies of any size can effectively implement forward thinking into their planning process.

Barclays Commercial Bank director Ray O’Donoghue said: “In today’s economic environment forward thinking is, unequivocally, more important than ever. Our report addresses this head on by demonstrating the value of implementing fundamental tools and processes to achieve a competitive edge.

"There are also tangible economic benefits to be gained if this process is embedded within our national business culture.”

The national research results also show that public sector organisations are some of the most committed to forward thinking (94% analyse the future and 61% think they do it well).

Retail and wholesale companies are less likely to analyse the future external environment, with 43% saying they do not currently do this.

Technology, media and telecommunications companies are also among the least prepared for changes in the future environment.

Graeme Leach (pictured), chief economist and director of policy at the IoD, said: “In an increasingly complex world with great economic uncertainty, there has probably never been a better time to think about the future. If companies are to get ahead and stay ahead, they must resist the temptation to place forward thinking in the ‘too difficult to do’ file.

"Over the coming years successful forward-thinking may prove to be the difference between success and failure.”

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