Thames Valley: KPMG says businesses need to disrupt to grow

KPMG brought together businesses from across the Thames Valley this month to discuss opportunities for growth in the wake of uncertainty.

Guests gathered for the event at Windsor Castle. Mark Essex, director of public policy at KPMG, observed: “The UK has some marvellous opportunities for growth, but businesses need to disrupt to really achieve that growth. Let’s take AI in retail as an example. ‘Online’ hasn’t even happened to retail yet. We still put things in a basket before we checkout and pay for the goods; and an ancient Greek would recognise that. Think forward to when the ‘bots’ take over and begin to offer a personal service and do our shopping for us – they’ll be the experts in the food that’s good for us, and the clothes that suit us. This is where the housing, education, health, and entertainment sectors will really need to step in to support the high street.”

Terri Coughlan, a partner for KPMG who works with privately-owned businesses in the Thames Valley, added: “Businesses can’t hang around waiting for change to happen to them. They need to be the drivers for change if they’re going to grow. The art is to catch the opportunities at the right stage of growth.”

Coughlan’s top tips for growth:

  1. Innovate: Keep ahead of the curve. Create the right conditions for innovation to flourish, and harness the power of technology without becoming a slave to it.
  2. Make smart investments: Gain new customers, new segments or new capabilities. Diversify or find new routes to market. Or use it as defensive play in the face of competition.
  3. Think global: Expanding overseas opens up a wealth of opportunity to access new markets, increase profitability by reducing labour costs, and access specialist skills or technology.
  4. Manage growing pains: Rapid growth may be desirable, but it comes with many challenges, from uneven cash flow to increasingly complex regulations. Stay on top for sustainable success.
  5. The power of networking: Share your knowledge and concerns across industries and your network. There’s a lot to learn from other businesses who – despite first appearances – face many of the same challenges.