When it comes to business disruptors, virtually no industry is left untouched. Here are the top three business disruptors that companies in the built environment will have to deal with in 2018:

1. Volatile exchange rates
While most business executives understand that volatile exchange rates affect the value of their companies’ assets and liabilities denominated in foreign currencies, not many understand that exchange rates can have a serious impact on operating profit, says HBR.org. In the long run, one needs to consider operating exposure when setting strategy and worldwide product planning. For specifiers and designers, specifically, the volatile rand means that you can’t always anticipate and control how much a product will cost at any given time. Partnering with an architectural specifier that understands how to balance the desired aesthetic with technical requirements and delivery deadlines will ensure you are able to present suitable alternatives if volatile exchange rates lead to specific products being unsuitable at the time required.

2. Retiring senior managers
According to the co-authors of Leading with Vision, who are also behind the Trends in Executive Development 2016 report, “Experienced leaders of the baby boomer generation continue to retire at a pace of 10 000 per day.” This means that companies need to focus on ensuring that the next generation of leaders have the knowledge, experience and wisdom required to successfully run their businesses. This challenge is twofold because not only does the current workforce need to be upskilled to replace their predecessors, they also need to be equipped with skills that the previous set of leaders didn’t necessarily need.

To both retain their skills and encourage them to undertake knowledge transfer among younger generations, baby boomers are increasingly being offered flexible working, freelance or consultancy options to dissuade them from retiring altogether. Other employers are trying to broaden their talent pools and ramp up on their talent-building capacity by employing tools ranging from traditional assessments to people analytics software, to identify potential high fliers either internally or as part of an external recruitment process.

3. Changes in leadership strategy
Forbes lists the following strategies to ensure emerging leaders are prepared for the changes required by businesses of the future:

• Engage others in a powerful vision for your brand
Experience, skill and instinct are needed to see the range of trends that exist within your business’ ecosystem as well as current and future capabilities within the business. After crafting a powerful vision, leaders need to focus on actively engaging everyone in the business to live the vision.

• Meet the changing demands in the market
As the market continues to change, so do the requirements of customers. Leaders have to understand which systems need to be put in place to ensure they are able to meet clients’ needs while protecting employee engagement and maintaining profitability.

• Prepare future leaders for an uncertain world
Leaders need to develop a high level of cognitive readiness, which is the mental, emotional and interpersonal preparedness for uncertainty and risk, reads the Trends in Executive Development 2016 report. Leaders of the future will need the mental acumen to address complexities across interconnected systems such as integrating partners across organisations or multiple countries. Leaders must continue to evolve if they are to lead the industry in the future as they did in the past.

• Changing communication channels
The way you engaged with clients in the past isn’t the same as the way you will be communicating with them in the future. If you aren’t focusing on tailoring your messages for your ideal buyers and delivering these messages on the platforms and digital channels they prefer to use, you will be missing out on many conversations. Besides focusing on building your online communities, you need to make sure your content is being published on relevant industry sites and active social communities.

Thanks and acknowledgement are given to www.hbr.org, www.forbes.com and www.raconteur.com for some of the information contained in this article.

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