Leaders aspire to ensure their organisations are economically sustainable, meaning they protect the environment and communities while maintaining a positive bottom line. It’s about balancing short-term financial targets with the long-term viability of the business and its role in society.
However, a challenging economic climate makes this balancing act difficult, often pushing the focus towards short-term financial objectives as leaders brace for revenue declines.
A recent survey shows that 69% of global CEOs are pessimistic about the economic outlook for the coming year. Furthermore, almost 40% are unsure about their organisations’ economic viability over the next decade if they persist on their current trajectory. When asked about the most significant factors likely to affect their profitability in the near future, 40% highlighted the shift to new energy sources and disruptions in the supply chain.
So, how can leaders rewrite this narrative?
Strength in ASEAN
Based on my observations, leaders in Asia generally appear more optimistic about growth prospects compared to their international counterparts.
In Singapore, despite a mature market, the government and businesses are preparing for the next wave of technological innovation. They aim to advance digitisation through artificial intelligence and robotics. Moreover, in fast-growing economies across Southeast Asia, sustainability is increasingly a focal point in business discussions, particularly within the financial services sector.
But how is economic sustainability achieved?
Building a growth mindset
In my experience, adopting a growth mindset leads to practices that encourage long-term economic, social, and community development, while also meeting short-term financial objectives. This approach fosters greater autonomy and commitment among team members and fuels collaboration and innovation. If you’re aiming to enhance economic sustainability through a growth mindset, these are contributing factors to consider:
- Embracing next-gen technology to improve business efficiency
The leaders I speak to share a similar mindset: We’re all asking, “How can we prepare our organisations for greater efficiency and productivity in the coming years?”
Our recent NTT Connected Industry report surveyed CEOs about their organisations’ ability to adapt strategies. Only 50% strongly agreed that they were successful. Looking to the future, the key business drivers over the next 18 months focus on enhancing agility, resilience, and responsiveness to change. Consequently, 95.4% of respondents said their organisations have become increasingly reliant on technology.
Navigating this transition, the implementation of artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML), internet of Things (IoT), and automation will be critical. The rising prominence of AI tools has led us to integrate AI into our solutions, aiding clients in achieving better efficiencies and facilitating higher-value work within organisations. These tools also help minimise waste and enhance profitability through data gathered during production processes. Importantly, this shouldn’t come at the expense of human roles. People and technology must coexist, ensuring a human element in technology implementation and use.
The path to greater economic sustainability is not often travelled alone. The need to consult experts is common, especially those who offer ‘as-a-service’ solutions, meaning that frameworks and technical expertise are readily accessible at the touch of a button. This can cover a broad range of areas, including sustainability, networks, cloud, and edge computing as a service. For example, our recent 2023 Edge Advantage Report indicates that 94% of respondents are working with partners to achieve edge computing success and are looking for a single edge partner to meet all their evolving needs.
- Accelerating relationships
If there’s one lesson COVID-19 has taught us, it’s the crucial importance of relationships for long-term viability and revenue. In the ASEAN region, the focus is not solely on client relations; interactions with peers and team members are equally vital. These individuals play a key role in fostering a growth mindset, requiring the autonomy and freedom to excel, and are essential in sustaining a robust business.
Despite the marked diversity in culture and language across the ASEAN region, I find leaders eager to collaborate, share insights, and learn from one another. Although our nations progress at varying rates, the collective willingness to communicate and learn is another factor contributing to a growth mindset.
Look after your clients and employees, and they will look after you
Achieving economic sustainability is a long-term commitment that requires meticulous planning to balance both immediate and future business priorities. The adage often heard in business circles—revenue is vanity, profit is sanity, cash is reality—serves as a reminder of the complex balancing act leaders face. For those who successfully integrate these three factors into their strategic planning, the benefits are abundant.