Creating success in 2022: 5 key business priorities

By Chris Chelliah
Peter Drucker once said: “The best way to predict the future is to create it.” For CXOs looking to drive their tech-driven organizations in 2022 and beyond, what are some of the key business priorities they need to consider?   Here are my 5 key business priorites

Boards will demand true transformation from their cloud investments.

Organizations worldwide will spend US$1.78 trillion on cloud and other “digital transformation” initiatives in 2022, according to Statista.

The question is, are companies and governments investing to truly transform or they undertaking what Forrester calls “digital sameness”?

The shift to cloud is critical. In the private sector, already one or more cloud-centric digital “outsiders” are disrupting just about every industry.

Take, Singtel, one of Asia’s leading communications groups, which is partnering with Grab to offer banking services to retail and corporate customers in Singapore. Expect to see more such unconventional digital partnerships across sectors.

Certainly, the big rewards come to those organizations that see cloud as a liberator and facilitator. Indeed, Gartner calls the cloud a “force multiplier”—the scalable, resilient technology foundation for long-term innovation and growth.

Increasingly, organizations recognise that the cloud frees up technical people from mundane work, letting them focus more on developing unique, profitable digital products and services. Additionally, cloud is a facilitator of data driven business, bringing new artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) enabled tools to the fingertips of those who understand and can bring change to the business.

As we enter 2022, expect to hear boards asking their executive teams for more evidence that their cloud investments are positioning their companies for long-term competitive advantage.

ML and AI will become a core competency for leading digital enterprises.

With most enterprises continuing to drown in data, ML and AI algorithms represent a life raft, helping enterprises analyze and learn from that data, improving decision-making and informing a range of next actions.

Most enterprises are just experimenting with ML/AI and finding requsite skills is a challenge.

With most organisations not having teams of qualified data scientists, a more practical alternative is to build smaller, more focused “MLOps” teams. Such teams consist of data scientists, developers and other IT operations people to deploy, maintain, and constantly improve ML/AI models.

Further, Forrester predicts that one in five organizations will double down on what it calls “AI inside”AI and ML embedded in their systems and operational practices.

People will evaluate your company through a sustainability lens.

When buying goods and services or sizing up potential employers, many people today are evaluating companies’ progress on sustainability. Enterprises are also doing the same with their suppliers and partners, holding them—and themselves—accountable for adopting various sustainable initiatives including reducing carbon emissions.

In 2022, it will be almost compulsory for businesses to lay out and execute a comprehensive sustainability strategy. In APAC, this will need more focused leadership. Forrester reports that among Fortune Global 200 companies, 92% in North America and 81% in EMEA have appointed a sustainability lead at the VP, director, or other executive level; only 26% in APAC have.

“Sustainability efforts of many APAC firms are driven by compliance and investor pressure, not strategic planning and risk management,” Forester says. “This approach won’t materially affect climate change and fool environmentally attuned customers and partners.

“Real action” requires enterprises to change some of the fundamentals of their business.

Employers must reimagine their career-development and recruiting practices .

Hiring and retaining skilled people continues to be the No. 1 priority of just about every CXO. Yet the Great Resignation spurred by the global pandemic suggests that in 2022, employers will have their work cut out for them: Companies need to be more proactive about charting a career path for employees and listening to their concerns about work-life balance and workplace flexibility.

The 2021 AI@Work report by Oracle and Workplace Intelligence found that the pandemic has caused many employees to feel “stuck” and is pushing them to rethink their futures. As a result, 83% are looking to make career changes over the next year; 85% aren’t satisfied with their employer’s career support, and 87% said their employer should do more to listen to their needs. In addition, 88% of respondents said the pandemic has made work-life balance, mental health, and job flexibility bigger priorities for them.

Employees have much different priorities now compared to before the pandemic and companies need to take them into account to reimagine the post-pandemic workplace.

Supply chain disruption will become the “never normal.”

The pandemic continues to force supply chain planners to reassess their priorities and how they apply the latest supply chain management (SCM) technologies, as “never normal” becomes the new normal.

For instance, whereas “just-in-time” inventory was the pre-pandemic best practice, “safety stock”—or what is known as “just-in-case” inventory management—is considered the new normal.

While even the most sophisticated supply chain technologies won’t fully anticipate the extent of market shocks such as a global pandemic, they can help companies figure out the right balance of safety stock.

As people’s buying behaviors shift from phyiscal to online, companies will need to identify and react to those shifts and plan for the “ripple effects” across their plants, data centers, and extended supply chains. By considering these key priorities, Malaysian businesses will be better able to to boost their economic impact and help reignite the new Asian Age.

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