As directors look to the future, we know one of the most important initiatives is the need to tech-enable and digitize our company’s products and service offerings.

If Directors are to truly provide thoughtful advice and governance to our respective companies as they embrace inherent changes to the way people work, live, buy, and experience products and services, Directors must be fully up to speed on the current competitive landscape.

Accenture states are 4 new realities that are shaping consumer expectations. Companies need to understand these influential factors to remain relevant and be able to deliver value to all stakeholders:

  1. The Human Experience
  2. Technology
  3. Work
  4. Sustainability

The Human Experience: Working remote via Zoom is our new reality. 1B people changed their behavior simultaneously. We went from 40% online to 80% online grocery delivery overnight.

  • The use of telehealth increased by 40-50x. Organizations are still assessing what the impact on the human experience of this remote hybrid work environment is. We must ask management to develop programs to create coherence and connectedness of our current teams. The companies that had invested and had a digital cloud infrastructure and architecture were more flexible and are adapting more quickly to enable their organizations.
  • Organizations need to become more adept at sensing the real ways people may have changed to enable them to work more effectively and stay connected. As companies seek continuous innovation of products and services, delivered in new and better ways to the customer, it’s important to not confuse tools with the solution. Slack, Zoom, and other tools are work group enhancers
  • The key is going to be the “experience layer” that you create using technology.

Technology: Technology was the lifeline that kept everything afloat. Because we have evolved to a level of digital competence everybody was able to move to Zoom and utilize digital supply chains. This enabled remote work in a smooth way that 5 years earlier would not have been possible.

  • To be a top 10% digital leader, a key co. goal needs to be agreed on that you would be as good as Google (or a digital native co.) at using tech across your co.
  • Every co. must establish a foundation of digital leadership.

Work: Work is now hybrid. We should consider creating an omni connected version of the future where space and location will still be important.

  • Work will be more location independent (hybrid)
  • “Hyper automation” will become the norm in how we work using a new range of work tools

Sustainability: When it comes to tackling the complexities of ESG, climate change is one your institutional investors highest priority issues for boardrooms across the world. From increased regulations to investor pressures to consumer expectations, it is a topic that is here to stay. Companies should anticipate more pressure than ever to articulate a philosophy and metric based approach.

  • Coming off COP 26 businesses are committing to sustainability. They are seeking technology for ESG reporting on their supply chain. Technology creates 5% of global emissions today and is on a path to increase to 14% by 2035 unless there are changes made. There are new initiatives for green SW and green AI vs. red AI. Technology consumes a lot of power.
  • ESG will continue to be an important topic and board members should expect to see more climate-specific issues raised this proxy season. It is important to gather all relevant data and start the process of framing the discussion, as well as asking your management to share the current status and future plans in preparation for the ’22 annual meeting.

2022 will be another pivotal year and companies will be well served to be proactive on the rapidly changing way we live and work. Be prepared and take steps to articulate how your company will meet the shifting needs and expectation of customers, employees and all stakeholders.