Plan your way out of recession

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Interesting keynote from Mike Cansfield, principal analyst at Forrester Research, to kick off this years Orange Business Live. Mike reckons that all companies should now be focussed on planning their way out of the recession (and yes, it is a recession, not a depression as the doom mongers are proclaiming.) Not all sectors and all markets are recessed, so look for areas of growth, he says such as Africa, Middle East and China.

It's also vital to review the underlying cost structures pervading the whole business and recognise how new technologies like Cloud Computing, SaaS, M2M, telepresence, can strip out costs that companies have so far overlooked. For instance, to reduce travel costs, you could use more conferencing and collaboration technologies. To reduce mobile bills, you can look to FMC and getting mobile traffic onto global VPNs as soon as possible.

Cansfield recommends that companies do more to automate and integrate their supply chains upwards and downwards. And supply chains are also the answer to innovation too - work with your partners to develop new products, go-to-market strategies and figure out ways to dramatically remove costs from processes. "A company is only as strong as its ecosystem."

It's all pretty simple stuff but according to Cansfield this was overlooked during the growth years, with chief execs so focussed on sales and the top line that they neglected the bottom line. So the message is: use the downturn to review and revise all processes. Let the problems lead (or solutions to them) and let the technology follow.

Stewart Baines

I've been writing about technology for nearly 20 years, including editing industry magazines Connect and Communications International. In 2002 I co-founded Futurity Media with Anthony Plewes. My focus in Futurity Media is in emerging technologies, social media and future gazing. As a graduate of philosophy & science, I have studied futurology & foresight to the post-grad level.