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North American Businesses Unprepared for New Landscape

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In an ever-changing world, it can be difficult to keep up with things — and it seems that’s true whether you’re a person or a business.

In fact, according to a new study from Celerity, just 15% of businesses in the U.S. and Canada could be considered “highly responsive” to the rapid shifts in today’s business landscape. (Celerity is the premium advisory services arm of the Randstad Technologies Group, an international HR services provider.)

The survey, conducted from August 2021 through March 2022, looks at factors including what companies are prioritizing now, the challenges they’re facing and how firms can rise to the challenges that come with surviving — and thriving — in the current business landscape.

Focus on customer goals presents challenges

Customer needs have always been the backbone of any business, large or small. In fact, 41% of North American businesses say that “meeting customer demand and expectations” is among their top three priorities. As such, 45% will invest greatly to meet these demands over the next 12 months.

Still, addressing customer goals can be difficult to do well.

For example, only a third of North American organizations consistently meet the expectations of their customers, while just 40% express high confidence that they’d be able to “translate and combine various data ” and put it into tangible practices. About a third of firms cite “a lack of coordination across teams or organizations” within the company — as well as an “inability to manage and distribute relevant customer insights” to their stakeholders — as considerable barriers to affecting real change.

Responsiveness is key

When it comes to keeping customers happy, responsiveness is a huge factor. In fact, responsive businesses are over three times more successful at meeting their customers’ expectations — further, they’re also more than six times better at adapting changes faster to meet market demands.

And this doesn’t just help customers — it’s also good for businesses. According to the survey, responsive firms are 66% more likely to have increased their revenue over the past five years. For small businesses looking to invest in their operations, this could be a valuable aspect to focus on, especially in the coming months as we continue to ride out the pandemic.

Notably, over 70% of companies describe external partners as “important” or “mission-critical” to their objectives.

Improving responsiveness is also something that can also be parlayed into future success: The survey found that highly responsive companies are twice as likely to continue investing in efforts targeted toward their customer base, thereby taking full advantage of their edge.

But to become more responsive and best support their customers, businesses will need to find a way to get past the organizational and management-related issues that can complicate things for both customers and employees. Whether firms will be able to rise to that challenge as the pandemic marches on remains to be seen.

Methodology: The survey was conducted by market researcher Forrester Consulting on behalf of Celerity. Survey respondents consisted of 418 digital strategy decision-makers in IT, operations and marketing based in the United States and Canada. Polling was performed from August 2021 through March 2022; in addition, eight interviews were conducted for this study. Respondents were offered a “small nominal incentive” for their participation.


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