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The business case for accelerating change

from  October 11, 2022 | 3 min read

Business Future Index 2022: The Great Acceleration

When the world closed its doors in 2020, businesses were faced with a choice: hope for the best, or rise to the challenge of innovating their way out of uncertainty.

Those who took the plunge have experienced a large degree of acceleration in areas that would otherwise have gone unchanged for months or years – with a huge, positive impact on organizations and their people.

But there are a number of businesses that haven’t adapted enough. This delay to invest in key areas puts these organizations in danger of being left behind.

Organizations cannot afford to become complacent – those who’ve seen accelerated growth need to build on their efforts, and those not harnessing these accelerations need to do so with a sense of urgency.

In Unit4’s 2022 Business Future Index, we’ve explored the impact and benefits of acceleration and what they mean for organizations. In this article, we’ll focus in on one area: the bottom line, and how acceleration is bringing positive changes to organizational performance.

What is the Business Future Index?

The Unit4 Business Future Index examines how 3,450 professional respondents (employees and leadership) from across 12 global markets and all sectors, consider their business’s performance between 2021 and 2022: in terms of the bottom line, business strategies and priorities, technology adoption, the impact of ESG and people strategies.

We hope that our findings will help you form a clearer picture of how your organization compares to its peers in its progress and response to the “great acceleration.” In doing so, it will enable you to understand the benefits of change, the costs of complacency, and the main barriers to further evolution.

The impact of acceleration on your bottom line

Crisis is a driver for acceleration – and the COVID-19 pandemic has been a clear driver of unprecedented change, smashing through traditional organizational inertia.

In response to the pandemic, over nine in 10 organizations report they have seen a great acceleration in the areas of:

  • Digital transformation (including move to cloud, increased use of online tools, and adoption of self-service tools)
  • Flexible working and work from home practices
  • Rollout of internal software and tools to aid both productivity and the employee experience
  • Rollout of new products and services
  • Changes to cyber security practices, strategies, and architecture.

And only 7% claim they haven’t seen any acceleration to any business areas in reaction to the pandemic.

One of the biggest shifts has been to digital transformation and flexible working practices, which has helped organizations deliver a high quality of service while keeping their people safe.

Acceleration means real improvements for the bottom line…

Business performance is improving year on year, with many organizations weathering the crisis well and going from strength to strength in 2022.

Over half of our respondents report that they’re exceeding their targets for the year – up from 34% in 2021. What’s more, in 2021, 51% of those surveyed reported exceeding profit expectations over the past three years, which has risen to 60% in 2022.

Alongside performance gains, the strength that organizations have shown during uncertain times has also improved YoY. In 2021, 63% of organizations reported that their ability to be resilient – and to continue to perform in the face of adversity - was good. In 2022, this has risen to 67%.

… but despite the big positive changes, it’s important to ensure people are experiencing the benefits

While adjusting to remote working or new technology is likely to have taken time, the end results have largely been positive. For around three quarters of respondents, these accelerations have led to better wellbeing (74%), better team collaboration (73%) and a better end-user/customer experience (72%.)

But leadership is more likely to think this than the employees themselves, suggesting there are still some loose ends to tie up. In the three areas mentioned above, there’s a 12-14% difference between the employer and employee perception of the improvements.

What does this mean? That while collaborative and remote working support tools are vital to boost productivity and performance, they may not be enough on their own. It’s equally important to invest in digitizing engagement tools, to gain a full picture of your peoples’ responses to the big changes.

Ready to learn more?

There’s much more where this came from. To get the full overview of the findings of this year’s Business Future Index survey – including the impacts of acceleration on ESG, talent strategy, and technology adoption, and the steps you can take to ensure your organization isn’t left behind – check out our new interactive eBook here.

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