With the passing of each year I’m even more convinced that New Year best wishes are a compulsory formality, rendered trite by digital conveniences.
Nonetheless, they are customary and this season of goodwill should not be so readily discounted. As such, I will try to make this a useful exercise by sharing some of my thoughts on how companies might approach 2019.
None of us knows exactly what to make of 2018. Was it the last year of growth? Was it the last before a war?! The year of civil uprisings born of growing inequality? Who can really say? The only certainty is that trouble is on the horizon. The unknown factors are how fast and with what impact.
We are living in what is probably the longest economic growth cycle in history. Ten Years!
If this growth continues beyond Q2 of this year, it will most definitely be the longest.
In 2019 (or 2020, at the latest) it will draw to an end. That much is certain.
We are headed for uncertain times. The signs are clear.
Throughout the world, listed assets are in freefall. Half are even posting minus 20%, signifying that strategists are scaling back their positions and the paradigm is shifting. The apprehension is understandable.
Central banks have depleted their monetary ammunition. As a consequence, rates are rising. In the US, short-term rates are even higher than long-term rates, which is far from trivial in terms of economic history.
Commercial war (wars?) almost always precedes outright war. Ray Dalio, founder of Bridgewater, one of the world’s largest hedge funds, reminds us of this in his predictions for 2019. Over the past 500 years, an emerging power has risen up to challenge the dominant power on 16 separate occasions. Twelve such occasions resulted in war.
Conflict always starts in the economic sphere.
# In the early 20th century, Germany challenged the British and French Empires -twice. Then, there was Japan with the US – and now China with the same.
# At a time when populists are coming into power virtually everywhere (with no apparent plan, be it economic, diplomatic or military) who would be so bold as to claim that we have learned our lesson through history?
# Is it not plain for all to see that Europe is subject to a relentless assault on the part of those who have harnessed digital power— the US, China and Russia?
Such risks might well encourage us to rethink our ambitions!
A Certainty. Stop trying to measure the uncertain!
That being said, the fact that we have not yet gotten to the toughest part raises certain questions. Why take the risk of not taking risks? Why not continue making the best of the situation, if that means it just might work out?
Ultimately, a solution does exist. We used to call it “flexibility” – now we label it “agility” .
I believe that this is the only managerial choice that remains viable. It makes little sense to draw up budgets, objectives and BP’s for a period greater than 3 months – unless you are selling a water network, tanks, gas or an Airbus!
Seeing as we don’t know what the future holds, we must develop sustainable, sound mechanisms for ultrafast adaptation – capable of generating exceptional performance and risk levels by channeling reliable and constant indicators. Or of stopping on a dime if circumstances demand it.
Pentalog committed to this choice from the get-go, with the added benefit of the outstanding lean dashboard we’ve had for the better part of a year now – which allows the management committee to deliberate only on the basis of highly accurate, correlated figures.
Online leads become conversations, which become offers, which become sales— which in turn become contracts. In parallel, online recruitment leads become conversations, which become offers, which become agreements, which too become contracts. Everything is harnessed and aligned.
Today, we need 40 more people to honor Pentalog Software Factory’s firm orders, which is five fewer in comparison with the turn of 2018 – with an increase in our workforce of 120 people. Our non-coverage rate has therefore fallen from 5.6% to 4.3%, compared to the 10%-15% among competition.
During this period, global revenue has increased by 15%. Owed to the automation of our marketing and sales processes, productivity of each salesperson rose by an average of almost 10%.
We are able to afford to staff the best and offer clients the most competitive prices, because we continuously monitor key factors.
My wishes for 2019. Be Agile!
Tomorrow, should market conditions suddenly deteriorate, we are poised to adapt on the fly: reducing (or increasing?) sales campaigns and reducing recruitment campaigns. Only six people make up our worldwide sales force. Today, there is not an ounce of excess fat on the company. This applies equally to our recruiters who, with the help of our processes and tech, recruit four times more per head than their industry peers!
Let’s put an end to annual budgets and projections. And finally commit to continuous management!
In 2019, we will provide all the guidance our clients need to jump-start their agile transformation – an essential process in the digital age. How can you expect to make strides in the digital world if your projects are still on the precipice and your finance still in budgeting?
To beat the competition you must move faster, which entails making decisions and adapting faster.
Therefore, is with your company interests in mind that I wish you a very agile, highly automated New Year.
And, even in these increasingly technological times, we would have nothing were it not for humankind – so I personally wish you and all your loved ones the best of health and all the happiness in the world!