What Is Future Proofing and Why Is It Crucial for Business Success?

In 1960, Standard & Poors (S&P) 500 companies had an average lifespan of 60 years. Today, that lifespan is about 18 years — a 70% decrease.

According to MIT Technology Review, the big reason why companies are disappearing faster than ever before is technology, or rather, their failure to adapt to changes in technology.

For companies in any industry to stand a better chance of thriving well into the future, steps must be taken to ensure their products, services, and business strategies are “future proof.”

What Is Future Proofing?

Future proofing is the idea that companies can create a long-lasting products, services, or business processes that require minimal improvement during their life cycles.

A good example of a future proof product is the LED light — which has a long service life and numerous consumer/industrial applications. However, the odds of creating a product with an extraordinary lifespan are slim as rapid advances in technology are reducing product lifecycles across industries.

A good example of a future proof business process on the other hand is to incorporate analytics into product innovation and development to gain a deeper understanding of the evolving needs and habits of target consumers.

What Can Your Organization Future Proof?

One of the biggest misconceptions about future proofing is that it only applies to product innovation — which can be extremely difficult for organizations with long innovation cycles such as pharmaceuticals.

Fortunately, there's more to future proofing than developing products with long life cycles — key business assets can also be future proofed and optimized such as:

Your Brand

Your brand isn’t just about what you and your employees think about your company — it’s also about what every prospective customer thinks too. And the more recognizable your brand is, the harder you have to work to maintain its image.

Here are some ways you can future proof your brand:

  • Protect Your Brand Values: Establishing brand values and building a team culture around them can ensure all future employees are aligned with your company’s ideals and standards. And if you haven’t established brand values yet, look at what differentiates you from the competition and start there.

  • Monitor Your Brand Reputation: Thanks to the Internet and social media, it only takes one customer sharing a bad product or service experience online to hurt your brand perception. Monitoring what’s being said about your company online and answering customer queries and complaints swiftly can go a long way towards protecting and improving your brand reputation.

  • Maintain Your Brand Appearance: Future proofing your brand also means updating the visual elements that represent your company (e.g. your logo, website design, app design, product packaging) from time to time. That’s because an outdated appearance can negatively impact your brand.

Your Customer Service Standards

Maintaining high customer service standards is essential to future proofing your company. Handling customers with empathy, appreciation, and helpfulness is crucial to achieving high levels of customer satisfaction and enhancing brand loyalty.

If you’re unconvinced that good customer service is something worth pursuing, consider the following statistics gathered by Salesforce:

  • 55% of customers are willing to pay more for great customer service
  • 89% of customers stopped doing business with a company after a bad customer service experience
  • 83% of consumers require some degree of customer support when making an online purchase

Remember, the products and services your company offers may change over the course of time — but the one thing that should never change is your level of customer service!

Your Digital Presence

In the age of social, customers no longer need to rely on sales representatives as their primary source of product/service information. That’s because they can get all of the infomormation they need to make informed sales decisions via digital and social media channels.

According to CEB’s report, The Digital Evolution in B2B Marketing, B2B customers get through 57% of the buying cycle before contacting a sales representative. This statistic is important for two reasons:

1. It means you must continually maintain your company’s digital presence to deliver valuable content and customer support through digital/social media
2. It means your sales representatives must now act as trusted advisors and facilitators instead of product/service educators to close inbound sales enquiries

Taking the following steps can help you future proof your company's digital presence well into the future:

  • Utilize Digital Analytics: Track, measure, and optimize the performance of all of your company’s digital assets, from your corporate website to web and/or mobile applications.

  • Optimize Your Website Design: Center your website’s user interface (UI), information architecture, and content around maximizing site traffic, customer engagement, and lead generation.

  • Ensure Your Website Is SEO-friendly: SEO-optimized content enables your customers to find your brand online when searching for content related to your products and services.

  • Go Mobile to Extend Your Digital Reach: With the mobile market growing rapidly around the world, developing a mobile app or mobile website can help you reach and engage mobile users in your target market.

  • Create and Share Content Regularly: Publishing engaging content and sharing it via a company blog and social media channels can increase your brand awareness and reputation among prospective customers.

  • Use Social Listening: Social listening gives you insight into what customers are saying about you and your competitors, providing valuable data that can improve lead generation, product innovation, and customer service.

How Will You Future Proof Your Business?

Innovation and technology can make or break a company in today’s challenging business environment. And it only takes one technological innovation to bring down even the biggest corporations — just look at Atari, Kodak, Blockbuster Video, Motorola, and Nokia.

Future proofing is not an easy process — especially when a company is relatively "new" to digital or takes a traditional, siloed approach to business.

In such cases, partnering with a third-party agency with experience in digital innovation is highly recommended to help navigate a company through today's digital, social, and mobile world.

Do you think future proofing is achievable in today’s business climate? Share your future proofing experience with us by commenting below!

Image Credit: Pixabay