Embracing technology to future-proof family business

Embracing technology to future-proof family business

In family business, technology and data-driven insights are the secret to staying ahead of the curve – and the competition – over the next 20 years.

Brad Miller

Partner, National Leader – Management Consulting, Enterprise

KPMG Australia

Close up of businessmen using a tablet

Don’t be scared, be prepared

In the late 1990s, few people could have guessed what the business landscape would look like in 2019.

Smartphones, automation and artificial intelligence, cashless payments and co-working spaces are just the tip of the iceberg – the world of work and the world in general have changed a lot in two decades, massively impacting business mindsets and customer purchasing behaviours along the way.

But while no one can say for certain what disruptive developments are in store for the next 20 years, maximising the benefits of technology can help family businesses meet and overcome future challenges, while sharpening their competitive edge here and now.

Get closer to your customers

According to respondents to the 2018 KPMG Enterprise and Family Business Australia survey, changing consumer preferences and purchasing behaviours were seen as one of the top threats to future growth.

One major benefit of technology is that, through business intelligence tools and data-driven insights, enterprises are now better equipped to identify shifting trends in customer patterns, behaviours, lifestyle choices and so on, resulting in better-informed decision-making around production, forecasting and planning.

It may even inspire what David Christie, Joint CEO of Bakers Delight Holdings, calls a ‘product renovation’ – such as when the iconic bakery chain added extra fibre to their white loaf in response to a more health-conscious movement among consumers. Within a few short years, the high-fibre white was their new best-seller.

“I don’t think anyone can honestly say they’ve got the full picture of what’s ahead,” Christie says, “but if you’ve got the right skillset, capability and drive to always be anticipating what your customers want, and if you’re prepared to try new things – and potentially to fail if they don’t work – then I think that puts you in a pretty good position.”

Start now

There are a couple of reasons that Brad Miller, Partner and National Leader, Management Consulting KPMG Enterprise, says there’s no time like the present when it comes to the adoption of new technologies.

The first is that technological solutions for core systems such as finance, HR, and even customer management are becoming more affordable, giving family businesses better data, better insights, and, as a result, better competitive advantage.

“If you are taking advantage of this, and we see a lot of the smaller companies doing it, you get better at making decisions, because you run your business in more of a real-time fashion,” Miller says.

“You can respond to issues and opportunities faster, and you get a better handle on things such as basic profitability, what your customers are doing, what your competition is doing, and what your employees are doing – i.e. how productive are you really as a business?”

The other argument for embracing new technologies sooner rather than later, is that it will make it easier to adapt to disruptions down the track.

“In simplistic terms, you need to invest now,” Miller says, “because if it’s not the absolute right piece of technology for a particular issue or it evolves, the experience will put you in good stead.”

This article was originally published on SmartCompany.

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