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Study Predicts ‘Transformed’ U.K. Business Landscape

By Kathy Gurchiek  10/30/2008
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The business landscape in the United Kingdom in 2018 will bear little resemblance to today’s, according to a study by the Chartered Management Institute (CMI) that suggests business models and structures will alter in character to reflect societal changes.

Greater influence by Brazil, Russia, India and China will transform the business landscape; talent will become more diverse in age, generational issues and culture; managers and leaders will be required to develop a new range of skills that focus on emotional and spiritual intelligence; and there will be a polarization from global corporations to virtual-community-based enterprises

That’s what the “probable future” holds, according to findings reported in Management Futures, the report based on the survey.

Based on the perspectives of a range of business leaders, futurologists and academics, and an analysis of trends affecting the U.K., the study distinguishes between the probable future, the desired future and the unexpected or alternative future.

The section on alternative future worlds, for example, breaks out what the report calls “16 surprise scenarios” that include a world under cyber attack, routine use of microchips by businesses “to enhance the abilities of their employees” and/or monitor and control their behavior, and a totalitarian regime arising in the United States following economic hard times that dictates restrictive business rules.

Among the forecasts for the probable future, “trade blocs will experience more competition and conflict [and] the possibility that global corporations will exert more influence than governments,” CMI's director of marketing and corporate affairs Jo Causon said in a podcast.

“Business models will change their nature. Customers will form part of the decision-making process [and] will be much more integrated into the organization and business structures will change” to be more customer-centric.

“You cannot predict the future, but you can prepare for it,” she said. “And the sorts of questions that organizations need to be asking themselves are ‘are we fit for the future?’ ”

Challenges in the probable future that managers and leaders might face, according to the report, include:

  • Work teams will become much more multigenerational, multicultural and remote, and more women will be in high management positions.
  • The proportion of employees coming from abroad to the U.K. will increase.
  • There will be a greater emphasis on skills such as understanding diversity and foreign cultures.
  • It will be necessary for organizations to develop recruitment processes such as psychometric testing, placing more emphasis on selecting managers for their emotional and spiritual intelligence.
  • Changing demographics will force organizations to reintroduce the role of apprentice through mentoring and alternative training programs.
  • There will be a power shift from employers to employees.
  • The character of business structures will change to become more diverse, more open to the outside world, more community-based and more employee-centric.
  • Governments within trade blocs will increase their collaboration.
  • Employee protests against having to become more productive without seeing increases in their wages will lead to increased mobility.
  • Faster, shorter life cycles will be common in products, and market prices will become increasingly transparent.

The report notes in the probable future section that “gaming technologies will significantly influence work and management.”

And while there is a lot of talk about work/life balance, Causon thinks that in 10 years talk will be about work/life integration, which involves offering tailored lifestyle benefits and support services relevant to employees.

“Organizations that recognize the needs of the employee are more likely to be successful, and organizations will need to be far more effective in managing different working patterns and having cultures that can actually support different working patterns.”

The report notes that organizations will need to take the needs of employees on the front line “much more into account” and will need to organize from the bottom.

Skills of U.K. managers and leaders that will matter most, Causon said, will be those that create impact—dealing with creativity and innovation, the ability to use wisdom or judgment as it relates to decision making, and the ability to analyze complex data and relate it to emotional situations or use emotional intelligence.

Kathy Gurchiek is associate editor for HR News. She can be reached at

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