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What’s driving thrivers: the strategies pushing high-performing businesses to the top

From SMEs to large, multi-site enterprises, all businesses want to thrive. But as Gamma’s recent Survive + Thrive research discovered, only 18% of UK organisations currently feel their business is doing ‘all it can to continue to grow and prosper’. The rest are either struggling to realise their full potential, or are actively at risk of going backward. Which doesn’t bode well for the future of these organisations – or that of the UK economy.

The reasons for this vary across industries and sectors. But although looking at root causes is valuable, the most important thing is for these businesses to identify how they can improve. Following the example of their thriving competitors seems like a logical place to start. Organisations who are just surviving need to consider what’s driving thrivers to the top – whether that’s their motivations, strategies or plans for the future – and then work out how they can emulate them.

What’s making thriving businesses stronger?

When asked to rate their organisations on different business issues in comparison to their competitors, thrivers are noticeably stronger in a number of key areas. For example, thrivers are over twice as likely to rate themselves highly in the area of people management and motivation. This is certainly an area all businesses should look to follow suit in, as it’s widely accepted that happier staff equates to a range of business benefits, including the fact that satisfied employees are more inclined to be productive.

Thrivers are also much more likely to rate themselves highly on their appetite for ‘new strategies and initiatives’. These can vary from the people-based, such as flexible working, to the technological, such as cloud-based application hosting. In line with this, thrivers feel much more confidently about their ability to adopt next-generation technology – something which is important for businesses to consider in a digital landscape.

But this doesn’t have to be complex. It’s easy to imagine that thrivers are focusing heavily on cutting-edge tech, because many of the world’s most successful companies are involved in technological innovation. While this is certainly true for some companies, most businesses feel that areas like intelligent machines aren’t actually all that important when it comes to thriving. In fact, when asked what areas of technology are most important to helping their business thrive, intelligent machines are bottom of the list.

Should survivors start emulating these thriving approaches?

This gives survivors some idea of what thrivers are prioritising. But this doesn’t mean they should follow suit immediately. Before survivors can emulate these thriving attitudes, they need to make sure they’ve got the right foundations in place. And according to our research, that foundation is data services. The majority (55%) of respondents feel data services is the area of technology most important to helping them thrive, followed by infrastructure and security.

You might think this contradicts the idea that the adoption of new tech is vital to success, because data services isn’t considered an innovative tech feature to have. But actually, this makes perfect sense. Whatever new strategies, products or platforms emerge – from remote working to chatbots – the likelihood is they’ll need a reliable data network in order to run effectively. Not to mention the fact that having strong data services and other essential infrastructure in place frees up time and energy, meaning businesses can spend time considering new approaches.

These results were echoed when the respondents were asked which areas of the business they deem important to helping things tick along as usual, showing that data services and infrastructure are vital for both getting by and getting ahead. It seems that all businesses can agree that digital foundation like robust data services are vital to success, given virtually nothing in a business can run without a reliable internet connection.

The need for strong foundations is obvious

The conclusion is clear – before they do anything else, survivors need to get the right foundations in place. In time, this can then support more complicated success strategies, like effective people management. For example, investing in robust data services can facilitate employees working from home and using cloud-based applications, creating more flexible working patterns and greater satisfaction. Strong digital foundations can also help businesses prepare to adopt new technology, meaning they’re ready to take advantage of any innovations as they emerge.

Fundamentally, this offers a simple message if your company is an aspiring thriver: get the basics right, or get it all wrong. While it may be tempting to look towards the higher-level strategies of thriving businesses and try to emulate them, surviving business first need to lay the solid foundations for success. This certainly won’t solve all business problems – but do it well, and you’ll be one step closer to a thriving future.

Looking for more insight into how thrivers are getting ahead in the digital economy? Click here to download our research report in full.