How to map costs for your innovation path to growth

We’ve seen why leaders with a clear vision connect innovation and strategic cost-cutting. In our economic environment, this becomes relevant for all companies, both incumbent and challengers.

At the top of the CEO’s agenda, we find over-regulation concerns (79%), geopolitical uncertainty (74%) and exchange rate volatility (73%), according to PWC’s 19th Annual Global CEO Survey. CEOs are not putting faith in global growth during these times of uncertainty.

In 2016, only 35% of CEOs believed that their own companies could grow during the year, as the figure below shows.

CEOs’ confidence in global economy and business growth prospects 

This was the lowest percentage since 2010 and, as the political agenda unfolds, optimism has likely fallen again in 2017. Prospects for 2018 are just as cheerful.

 

Blind cost-cutting is never the answer

Political instability, North Korea-US tensions, terrorist acts across continents, the refugee crisis in Europe, the BRIC’s slowing economies, stock market volatility, the Brexit process… Frantic news is putting CEOs on guard.

In such an edgy environment, management is naturally driven to use cost-cutting to align costs with business strategy. Strategic cost-cutting becomes a path companies take to resist hardships, become resilient and prepare for more solid growth opportunities. It focuses efforts on business areas that can be controllable, freeing up resources for transformation and future growth.

All companies have encountered this reality in the last decade. However, blind cost-cutting, not aligned with strategy and sustainability concerns, may be dangerous. An arbitrary, opaque and misunderstood corporate cost-reduction policy will alarm employees and disengage them from business strategy and leadership’s main goals.

Cost-reduction programmes have time and again failed in the past. In its 2012 report, ‘Stop cutting and start optimizing IT spend’, KPMG says these initiatives flop due to unclear cost drivers, overly cautious cost strategies and the fact that cost discipline is not embedded in a company’s culture. Success depends on cost discipline as well as on changing behaviours.

 

So what should you change?

Where exactly should you cut? And how can you do it to make sure you move forward, finding new and better products and services and building a company fit for any future scenario?

To help you establish a strategic cost-cutting strategy within your innovation management initiative, we will share five major steps you can take to ensure that your business remains competitive, relevant and able to maximise its potential in the face of less favourable circumstances.

Andreia Agostinho Dias, Sales Executive
Diana Neves de Carvalho, Exago’s CEO

You can access the full paper here

 

Why leaders with a clear vision connect innovation and strategic cost-cutting

A successful cost-cutting strategy is connected to an organisation’s capacity to evolve, to innovate, and to do so as a whole. Companies can, in fact, keep innovating in ways that do not require high investments in new product research and development, and which can save substantial amounts of time and money.

This process should start internally by capturing the wisdom of each employee, but can also reach external stakeholders, harnessing their potentially powerful insights, creating communities around the company and building communication bridges with clients and suppliers.

By listening to all these voices, and collecting the diverse expertise and know-how of their workforce, organisations can avoid waste, concentrate energies and operate in a more efficient way – thus getting prepared to react and adapt to continuous change.

Losing ‘fat’, as we know, makes us more agile, and agility is key in our times.

In this sense, leaders with a clear vision tend to use cost-cutting to align costs with business strategy. ‘Strategic cost-cutting’ helps companies lower costs, focus on the aspects of the business that are controllable and free up resources to fund transformation and future growth.

Innovation management does not offer magic formulas to do this, nor to mitigate slow growth. Yet sustainable growth, by its essence, cannot exist without ongoing innovation.

In the upcoming posts, we seek to understand what a strategic cost-cutting approach is in more detail, and how it can be important for companies in our economic environment. We also highlight how an innovation culture is fundamental to implement it, and guide you through five major steps to make it work in your organisation.

Andreia Agostinho Dias, Sales Executive
Diana Neves de Carvalho, Exago’s CEO

You can access the full paper here

 

Happy 10th birthday, Exago!

In a historic building in Lisbon, overlooking the Tagus river, Exago celebrated its 10th anniversary on Friday, November 24. It was the perfect opportunity to bring together the people who are part of us and our history: our team (past and present), our clients and our partners.

We would like to thank all those who joined us in celebrating this milestone, which marks a decade of collaborative work to help businesses innovate, while engaging over one million users across the world to build their organisation’s future.

Here’s to another 10 years of making innovation happen!

When all roads lead to the Web Summit

As world-class speakers, innovative Fortune 500 companies and ground-breaking startups descended on Lisbon this week for the Web Summit 2017, we at Exago couldn’t miss the event Forbes called “the best technology conference on the planet”.

Since the opening on November 6, more than 60,000 entrepreneurs, investors, journalists and startups from over 170 countries have been networking, exchanging ideas and listening to the 1,200-plus speakers at Feira Internacional de Lisboa (FIL) and Altice Arena.

With all eyes on innovation, technology and Artificial Intelligence (AI) – highlights have included talking robots taking the stage and self-driving cars –, the opening night welcomed António Guterres, the Secretary-General of the United Nations, who highlighted the importance of making sure “innovation works for the good of humankind”.

The biggest surprise of the night was physicist Stephen Hawking, who delivered the keynote speech through live video. “The rise of AI could be the worst or the best thing that has happened for humanity,” he warned. Noting that robots are already threatening millions of jobs (confirmed by Sophia the Robot), he added: “Perhaps we should all stop for a moment and focus not only on making our AI better and more successful, but also on the benefit of humanity.”

What’s next
The Web Summit comes to a close today with speaker Al Gore, former US vice-president and Nobel Prize-winner, who has been extremely vocal in tackling climate change.

Created in Dublin in 2010, the Web Summit started as a vehicle to connect the technology community with all industries. The Web Summit 2018 will take place in Lisbon for the third time, from November 5 to 8.

How strategic cost-cutting helps you shift from survival to growth

In a weak growth environment, with low investments and rising risks, companies gamble on cost-cutting to ensure that they are prepared and equipped to grow stronger, as they wait for better times to come. Yet, cost-cutting is more and more seen as a way to drive growth, rather than as way to survive or avoid insolvency.

With recession, macroeconomic concerns, digital disruption and commodity price fluctuations fueling uncertainty, Deloitte’s 2016 data illustrates this shift from survival to growth. Its fourth biennial cost survey shows that the ‘save to grow’ strategy of ‘using cost reduction to fund growth initiatives’ remains prominent today.

However, in 2016, many US companies were ‘simultaneously pursuing seemingly conflicting goals of aggressive growth and aggressive cost improvement’. Deloitte calls this the ‘thriving in uncertainty’ paradox.

Then, whatever the future holds, the key to cost programme success lies in ‘choosing a cost management strategy that aligns with your company’s needs and is capable of delivering the required level of savings’. In this context, tactical initiatives to pursue aggressive cost targets will not be enough, and are likely to be ‘a recipe for failure’, the report adds.

The change has to go deeper then, beyond tactics, reaching a strategic level. This means that a company’s most valuable assets, people and their talents, become top priorities, ‘consistent with a growth mindset, since having qualified workers and deploying them effectively is key to successful growth’, writes Deloitte.

Andreia Agostinho Dias, Sales Executive
Diana Neves de Carvalho, Exago’s CEO

You can access the full paper here