Fit for tomorrow: Future opportunities for today’s businesses

The current business landscape is one of constant transformation. Breakthrough technologies seem to appear every day and environmental, social and political change has upended traditional ways of working. Stakeholders – investors, consumers, employees and others – demand more transparency, forcing businesses to consider how they operate and make necessary adjustments.

How can companies ensure they’re fit for tomorrow in this environment?

Businesses must prepare today to capitalize on future opportunities and respond to emerging challenges. They must be more connected, informed and agile than ever before.

At Mazars, we keep a finger on the pulse of executive thought through our annual C-Suite Barometer. This survey of 800+ global business leaders discover the top strategic priorities for the future as well as potential challenges and barriers to success.

This article covers top-of-mind topics for today’s leaders and provides important considerations, best practices and actionable insight from thought leaders across our organization. We want to help you act now for what’s next.

Table of contents

Digital transformation is the forefront of today’s challenges and opportunities

Transforming company technology is the top strategic priority for businesses. However, identifying the right solution for your organization can be challenging.

Align your business strategy

Companies are often tempted to jump right into technology selection, especially as more advanced and exciting innovations emerge. However, it’s essential to start with your business first.

What is your business strategy? What is your vision? What are your overall objectives?

These important questions must be discussed with key stakeholders and answered before technology can enter the conversation.

Once you’ve established your goals, you can create a comprehensive roadmap to get there.

Look at your key business functions and processes. Where will technology add the most value and drive the most impact for your organization? How will it take you closer to achieving your goals?

Thinking holistically about your operations – from sales and supply chain to finance and IT – and aligning your digital strategy accordingly, will help you achieve the greatest ROI from your transformation.

Michael Fried

We focus on business strategy, vision, goals and objectives. Then identify people, process and technology solutions to enable and accelerate your business transformation.

Michael Fried Principal, MTC Practice Leader

Select the right technology

Many executives feel mounting pressure to understand and implement the latest innovations to stay competitive. However, cutting-edge technology is not always the right choice for your business.

Understanding how technology aligns with your business strategy will effectively and efficiently guide your technology evaluation and selection, helping to avoid costly mistakes. Start by revisiting your business vision and defining your top requirements. Then you can explore what’s out there.

Artificial intelligence (AI) is one technology that is here to stay. It’s quickly becoming less of an option and more of a necessity for modern businesses as it can influence every aspect of how teams work – from productivity to creativity. Where and how it will impact your business depends on your processes and goals.

It’s also critical to make sure your usage of AI aligns with best practices for security and ethics. Our SAFE AI Framework™ can help you realize the technology’s full potential for growth and efficiency in a way that protects your business’s data integrity.

What is a data-driven organization?

A data-driven organization leverages high-quality data analytics to gain business intelligence and new insights, improve decision-making and forecasting, and drive change.

Businesses are often eager to focus on dashboards and reports, an important piece of the data puzzle. However, incorporating data into your organization holistically enables a comprehensive and consistent data narrative that can profoundly impact decision-making and overall success.

Implement your solution and protect it

You’ve defined your business goals. You’ve selected and implemented the right technology solutions. You’ve shifted your organization’s approach to data.

You’ve spent a lot of time, effort and resources. In order to fully realize the benefits of your hard work, you must lead your team through the change and ensure their understanding. Then, you must protect your investment with cybersecurity, risk management and compliance strategies.

Take the next step

Explore our comprehensive guide to digital business transformation to make sure your business is fully equipped for the journey – and count on us for hands-on support at every step.

Case study: Belron

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Prepare for tomorrow’s tax landscape

Complying with constantly evolving state and local, federal and international tax regulations will only become more complex.

Enhance tax processes with technology

Technology enables a new level of tax agility. At Mazars, our day-to-day tax processes across core service areas – compliance and reporting, provision, and advisory – fully embrace technology to better service clients. The same can be said for how those clients leverage technology to empower their own company and, by default, customers.

One of the largest benefits of integrating technology is the ability to accelerate workflows, reconcile data from disparate sources on a regular basis and enhance your ability to prepare, review and complete processes with accuracy and speed.

Every business is overloaded with data, regardless of industry or company size. Advanced data analytics tools and software can help extract valuable insights, identify trends and optimize tax strategies. They can also be employed to stay current on the latest tax codes and compliance requirements.

We understand how important technology can be to scale and grow businesses. From digitizing manual data points to digitalizing workflows to leveraging artificial intelligence (AI) and bots to work through complex modeling and calculations, technology helps our teams drive efficiency.

Tifphani White-King

We want to drive value for our clients, both in the delivery of our services and their bottom line. Technology helps us do that every day.

Tifphani White-King Principal, National Tax Practice Leader

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ESG: Placing sustainability at the center of your organization

The importance of sustainable business development – providing for current needs without compromising the needs of future generations economically, socially and environmentally – is only growing. Developing a new or revised sustainability strategy is the second top priority for C-Suite leaders, marginally behind technology transformation.

For many organizations, publishing an annual environmental, social and governance (ESG) report is no longer enough. Today’s regulators, investors, clients, consumers and employees expect a solid ESG strategy, transparency and proof of progress.

Fortune 500 corporations and smaller companies, including privately owned businesses, need to develop an ESG approach.

An ESG strategy that is truly at the heart of your organization will help businesses of all sizes grow more sustainably. 

Drive value beyond compliance

Many businesses prioritize ESG because it’s the right thing to do. Others are primarily driven by increasingly stringent regulations locally, nationally and internationally. By embracing a sustainable mindset, we believe organizations are better positioned to attract new talent, consumers, clients and capital.

Jerome Devillers

Businesses need to recognize the value potential behind ESG.

Jerome Devillers Partner, Energy & Infra and ESG Practices Leader

Attract and retain talent

Today’s job seekers want to work for companies with a deeper purpose – and younger generations are especially passionate about sustainability.

They want to work for corporations that are lowering their carbon emissions and environmental impact; positively contributing to their communities; and ethically sourcing supplies, goods and services. A company with a demonstrated commitment to ESG will be a highly compelling employer.

Job seekers also want to contribute personally. They look for positions with duties that contribute to a company’s overall sustainability growth.

Phuong Gomard

More than ever, professionals want to work for companies that have a purpose.

Phuong Gomard Principal, Sustainable Finance Practice Leader

Make a business impact

Consumers and clients are more mindful of the organizations they align with when choosing to support a brand – and this is only expected to increase. Therefore, companies that prioritize ESG will have a heightened competitive advantage.

This can come in the form of earning customer loyalty and increased revenue, or investor confidence and new ways to secure smart, sustainable partnerships with clients who understand the potential pitfalls of associating with non-compliant organizations. Of particular importance is the difference between a strong company reputation amid rapid change, or one at risk of falling behind.

Secure capital now and in the future

The financial industry is increasingly interested in ESG factors when making investment and financing decisions. In addition to the reputational risk mentioned above, banks, insurers and asset managers also weigh operational risk in their decisions.

For example, how will climate change physically impact business assets based on location and exposure? What new hazards may exist?

These criteria will differ business to business. Identifying which guidelines may impact your organization and addressing them now is important to retain your financing.

Understand tax implications of ESG

Business leaders are becoming increasingly transparent with their tax disclosures related to ESG. In addition to core revenue drivers, they publicize their impact on environments and communities, their approach to ethics and more. Legislation is also changing in the United States and around the world to encourage ESG contributions through tax credits and incentives from investments in a range of areas, including energy and labor standards.

These elements build the foundation and character of a business – and influence the perception of its leaders. This contributes to revenue and brand, creating real value for organizations.

What is a sustainable finance system?

A system that creates and values financial assets so that it can cover the long-term needs of an inclusive and environmentally sustainable economy. At the moment, there is a lot of emphasis on the “green” aspect of finance with two components:

Financing green: The act of reorienting capital toward projects linked to sustainability to support the necessary transition.

Greening finance: Making the agenda of the financial industry more responsible and sustainable.

It’s also about the soundness and stability of the financial system. The world has been through several financial crises over the past decades and there are new risks, particularly related to climate change, that the financial system needs to understand and mitigate in order to avoid future crises.

Take the next step

From strategy and implementation to reporting and assurance, we offer sustainability services aligned with your unique ESG maturity level, needs and goals. Download the report, ESG: Where are you on the journey?, for a deeper look at how to navigate new rules, prioritize sustainable leadership and identify opportunities to take the right next step and drive the most value for your business.

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Consider new cybersecurity risks as you grow your digital footprint

Cybersecurity is top-of-mind for today’s C-suite leaders. And rightly so – cyber threats are complex and costly, and companies cannot afford to ignore them.

According to our C-Suite Barometer report, most leaders are confident that their data is completely protected.
However, it’s crucial to remember that just because a business has not experienced a data breach yet doesn’t mean they’re not a target. Every organization is susceptible, especially when new devices and data strategies are implemented as part of a digital business transformation. These technologies create an expanded attack surface and more exposure points for cyber criminals to exploit.

Organizations of every size must assess their preparedness, consider new vulnerabilities, and constantly monitor and test their strategies. Preparation today is a company’s best defense against a potential cyber-attack in the future.

Re-evaluate your exposure points

Large healthcare systems, financial institutions and other organizations with high volumes of valuable data are often a focus for cyber criminals. However, sensitive data exists in every business. You're at risk if you’re collecting any form of personal data – from internal employee information to consumer shopping behaviors.

This is true for small-and mid-sized businesses as well. In fact, there has been a significant increase in attacks in the middle market. Many of these companies may have had a small technology footprint in the past. Now, as more organizations move to the cloud, they have a much larger footprint.

If your company has implemented new technologies but hasn’t revisited your cyber strategy, now is the time to adjust your control framework to better protect these additions. Organizations with a strong safety net that evolves with them will be the best prepared for a potential attack when, not if, it happens.

Perform testing

One way to assess potential exposure points is to run tests. We regularly conduct cyber penetration testing and tabletop testing with our clients. These exercises ask participants (usually members of the executive, IT and incident response teams) to respond to potential attack scenarios in real time.

This helps businesses understand how they’ll react when an actual incident occurs and where critical decisions must be made. For example, when a ransomware attack occurs, are key stakeholders aligned on pay or no pay? Having these conversations before a cyber incident will help save precious time and enable a quicker response. They can also identify weaknesses in existing internal and external systems.

Prioritize continuous monitoring

In today’s digitally dependent world, networks are on 24/7. That means your risk is “always on” as well. Labor shortages, especially among skilled staff in the technology space, have made continuous monitoring a challenge for businesses.

Traditional signature-based antivirus software isn’t enough to protect against today’s sophisticated cybercriminals. Effective threat prevention begins with a modern end-point detection and response (EDR) solution that incorporates antivirus software as well as behavioral prevention that will protect against such threats as file-less malware, living-off-the-land attacks and variant payloads.

Managed detection and response (MDR) is the most proactive security service that will prevent ransomware and defend the organization against attacks, whether they are external or internal. 

Learn how the right technology and security operations can strengthen your ransomware defense.

Take the next step

We offer the technology and digital consulting services and industry-specific experience needed to deliver complete cybersecurity solutions to your organization.

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Enhance employee recruitment and retention

Finding and keeping top talent is the lifeblood of any successful organization. Without a continuous flow of reliable personnel, businesses can struggle to stay competitive. Yet recruiting and retaining employees continues to be an area where businesses struggle with finding the right balance.

Finding a path forward may mean building new or revised talent and retention strategies that meet the workforce of tomorrow’s growing interest in companies that prioritize transparency, altruism and flexibility. These factors are important to consider when shaping a hiring strategy for your unique business.

Focus on culture, ownership and purpose

Investing in company culture can deliver incredible returns and should therefore be an ongoing effort. Create opportunities for employees to provide feedback on their current experience and solicit ideas on areas for enhancement. Integrating employee feedback into existing or new initiatives effectively shows how your business values team member input and is willing to make changes based on it.

Giving employees a sense of ownership and pride in what they do is also highly motivating. Employees that enjoy and believe in the company’s culture are often more motivated to deliver quality work.

A company's purpose and core values can also influence performance and progress. A clear purpose that extends beyond the day-to-day work product is highly appealing, especially to younger generations. There is significant demand for job descriptions with an ESG component, whether it’s a responsibility tied to environmental efforts or equality in the workplace.

Demonstrate how your business champions its people and their growth, not just the company’s.

Prioritize diversity, equity and inclusion

Employees want to feel accepted, respected and valued in the workplace. As such, organizations need to prioritize diversity, equity and inclusion. This shows that you value the contributions of every individual. It also gives everyone an equal opportunity for advancement within the organization.

The move to work-from-home flexibility has also enabled geographic diversity. Companies can now hire and work with employees from anywhere in the world.

We believe the best solutions always come from teams with diverse backgrounds, perspectives and personalities. This is a guiding principle of our internal teams and how we can deliver the best results for our clients.

At the end of the day, employees should always feel included at the workplace – both in their function teams and the organization.

Look at all pools of talent

When not finding success with current recruitment practices, it can be beneficial to try something different. Try partnering with universities or tech schools. Explore online platforms. Upscaling, re-skilling and training internal resources is another way to strengthen and expand the skills of your current workforce. This can be a mutually beneficial exercise that provides growth opportunities for employees and creates business efficiency.

Take the next step

By investing in the right areas, companies can be an engaging and motivating environment for current and future employees while upholding the organization’s values. We can help empower workforces with management consulting services that ensure everyone is heading in the right direction together.

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Act now for what’s next

There’s no way to know what the future holds. However, you can act today to ensure you’re fit for tomorrow’s opportunities and challenges. Our teams are ready to help you move forward confidently in the right direction for your business.

Contact us today to get started.