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Act like a visionary business strategist, marketing expert and creative leader who advises CEOs on how to future-proof their companies, services and products.

Here are some major global challenges ahead:

The world order that was established after World War II, based on American security guarantees and free trade, is breaking down. The US is becoming more isolationist and less interested in maintaining its global leadership role. This creates a power vacuum and more instability in many regions of the world.
The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed the fragility and vulnerability of the global supply chain, especially for critical goods such as medical equipment, pharmaceuticals, and semiconductors. Many countries and companies are rethinking their dependence on foreign suppliers and looking for ways to diversify or reshore their production.
The pandemic has also accelerated the digital transformation of many industries and sectors, such as e-commerce, education, entertainment, and health care. This creates new opportunities and challenges for businesses and consumers, as well as regulatory and ethical issues.
The demographic trends of the world are diverging, with some countries facing aging and shrinking populations, while others have young and growing populations. This has implications for economic growth, social stability, immigration, and geopolitics.
The energy landscape is changing rapidly, with the US becoming a net exporter of oil and gas, while other major producers such as Russia, Saudi Arabia, and Iran face declining demand and revenues. The transition to renewable energy sources is also creating new winners and losers in the global market.
The political landscape is also shifting, with the rise of populism, nationalism, and authoritarianism in many countries. The US-China rivalry is intensifying, while Europe is struggling to maintain its unity and influence. The Middle East is undergoing a realignment of alliances and conflicts. The developing world is facing more challenges from climate change, poverty, corruption, and violence.

Take this information, compare it to all you know about businesses, procurement, marketing, user experience, price development, etc.

Create a list of at least 10 action-items leaders should start to plan, strategise and implement now to maximise their companies success in 5, 10 and 20 years.

For every of the 10 action-items, first explain your rationale in 1 paragraph and end in the specific 1-sentence action the companies' leaders need to do.

Here are 10 suggested action items for business leaders to future-proof their companies over the next 5-20 years:

  1. Diversify supply chains and manufacturing. The fragility of global supply chains has been exposed by the pandemic. Companies should identify critical components, raw materials, and production capacity that are overly dependent on single geographies or suppliers. Begin the process of qualifying alternate suppliers in different regions of the world to mitigate risk.

Action: Initiate a supply chain risk assessment and start developing redundant/alternative suppliers in new geographies within 12 months.

  1. Invest in digital transformation. The pandemic has accelerated the adoption of digital technologies. Companies need to rapidly digitize their operations, channels, and customer experience to remain competitive. Emerging technologies like AI, IoT, blockchain should be evaluated.

Action: Appoint a dedicated digital transformation leader to oversee a company-wide digital strategy and investment plan within 6 months.

  1. Prepare for demographic shifts. Aging populations in developed countries and youth bulges in developing nations will impact sales and operations. Companies should assess their human capital needs and tailor products for these demographic shifts.

Action: Direct HR and product teams to forecast labor and talent requirements for key markets over the next decade and adjust recruitment and products accordingly within the next year.

  1. Evaluate reshoring and regionalization. Rather than attempt to reshore everything, companies should do a cost-benefit analysis of relocating certain critical operations closer to end-user markets to gain flexibility, speed, and proximity.

Action: Identify components/capabilities that would benefit customers by being located closer and initiate relocation within 18 months.

  1. Prioritize sustainability. With climate change concerns mounting, companies must make their operations and products more sustainable to attract talent and customers. Invest in renewable energy, reduce waste, and overhaul procurement and distribution for environmental impact.

Action: Set sustainability goals to reduce carbon emissions across operations by 30% over the next 5 years.

  1. Protect data privacy. As products and services become more digital, customers will demand stronger data privacy safeguards. Appoint cross-functional data privacy teams to conduct audits and remain vigilant of regulatory developments.

Action: Initiate data privacy audits within 6 months and define policies/controls to comply with expanding regulations.

  1. Cultivate creative leadership. The complex challenges ahead will require creative solutions. Foster a culture of design thinking, experimentation and devolved decision making to make innovation easier.

Action: Implement incentivization programs and training within 12 months to recognize creative leadership and thinking at all levels of the organization.

  1. Develop scenario planning abilities. Geopolitical realignments and technological disruptions will constantly alter the business landscape. Build foresight capabilities using scenario planning to regularly envision multiple futures and options.

Action: Construct scenarios for plausible global futures 10 years out and the implications for the company within the next 3 months.

  1. Invest in cybersecurity and resilience. Geopolitical tensions are increasing vulnerability to cyberattacks that can cripple operations. Companies must assess their exposure and develop cyber resilience by deploying the latest security defenses.

Action: Perform a cyber audit using internal and/or external experts within 3 months to gauge strengths/vulnerabilities and implement recommendations.

  1. Automate intelligently. Automation can drive efficiency but can impact jobs. Companies should adopt automation in phases - starting in areas with labor shortages and transitioning impacted employees.

Action: Develop 5-year plan and approach for automating operations in a responsible, phased manner within the next 6 months.

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