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Business planning in focus: After the pandemic’s blindside and AI’s reinvention, businesses are finally re-embracing long-term agile strategizing

by | May 16, 2024 | Public Relations

Business planning kind of went out the window when the pandemic hit, and even as late as 2022, companies were stuck in short-term mode as the arduous recovery plodded along. Finally in 2023, enterprises took steps to move beyond rapid-response global crisis mode—systematically pursuing modernization initiatives such as upgrading business systems, processes and platforms. Of course, then Generative AI arrived and quickly made most new plans obsolete.

In 2024, with a new foundation in place, companies were ready to build on these investments and accelerate growth. A new report from business consultancy Board International shows a more nuanced picture of today’s business landscape. The firm’s second annual Global Planning Survey, based on insights from 1,500 business leaders across regions and industries, reveals a strong focus on growth and the need to navigate complex markets through sophisticated planning strategies. 

business planning

Are businesses positioned for breakthroughs?

The research revealed a significant gap between aspiration and reality. According to the survey, 78 percent of respondents believe their planning transformation attempts were successful in 2023.​ But despite this optimism, only 16 percent of businesses have achieved “the gold standard” of business planning: continuous agile planning.

​Taking a closer look at areas where organizations reported they fall short on, the survey pinpointed 3 key challenges: 47 percent reported data challenges and the inability to operate without reliable, trusted data. Another 47 percent highlighted arduous, manual tasks that impeded agility and held organizations back. And 42 percent admitted that legacy planning tools could not handle the complex demands of sophisticated scenario planning.

business planning

​Static spreadsheets are presenting a challenge

In addition, the survey found that more than half (55 percent) of those surveyed admitted still performing many planning processes in conventional spreadsheets like Excel.​ While spreadsheets have traditionally played a valuable role in planning, they fall short in their ability to perform complex scenario planning and effective collaboration, placing an artificial limit on what should be a broad range of potential future situations.

The survey data reinforces this point: 71 percent of companies report failing to consider enough potential scenarios as they plan for growth, leaving them vulnerable to unforeseen events.

Despite challenges, the path forward is promising

As an encouraging sign, companies recognize the limitations of spreadsheets and have begun embracing game-changing innovations including AI and tech-fueled agility. The survey found that 45 percent are exploring machine learning to improve decision-making, while 44 percent are looking to AI-powered business intelligence tools.

business planning

“Scenario planning is a critical tool for businesses to navigate an increasingly complex business landscape,” said Jeff Casale, Board CEO, in a news release. “However, traditional scenario planning methods can be time-consuming and resource intensive. It’s no surprise this is where AI is coming into play as a powerful enabler for future planning models and activities.”

By embracing AI and next-generation planning tools, companies can quickly model market scenarios and the potential impact of decisions—building out the best approaches to navigate unexpected shifts. This empowers leaders to enhance resilience, make data-driven decisions, and ultimately secure that all-important competitive advantage.

Download the full report here.

Richard Carufel
Richard Carufel is editor of Bulldog Reporter and the Daily ’Dog, one of the web’s leading sources of PR and marketing communications news and opinions. He has been reporting on the PR and communications industry for over 17 years, and has interviewed hundreds of journalists and PR industry leaders. Reach him at richard.carufel@bulldogreporter.com; @BulldogReporter

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