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Despite the many uncertainties, many companies expect growth in profits

18 January 2012

More than fifty percent of companies are expecting growth in terms of revenue as well as profit. Foreign countries in particular provide a major stimulus in this respect. These are among the findings of the sixth consecutive Berenschot 2012 Strategy Trends Survey. In terms of employment opportunities, the same percentage of companies expects growth, as do those who expect shrinkage.

194 entrepreneurs and managers reflecting the top layers of the Dutch business community took part in the Berenschot Strategy Trends Survey. They included owners, executive directors, directors and (top) managers in the various areas of the private sector. Besides participants from industry and the financial and business services sectors, this year the building and utilities sectors were also represented as separate categories.

No fewer than 66% of participants indicated their intention to differentiate themselves based on the ‘quality of products or services'. ‘Service' and ‘innovation' continue to be key elements in their differentiating capacity. The ‘lowest lifetime costs' - the costs of the total lifetime of a product or service - are gaining in importance. Like last year, entrepreneurs identified ‘new business models' as the most important strategic issue for 2012 (39%).'Innovation/R&D' (32%) and ‘human capital' (29%) complete the top 3.

In view of the strong interdependence of companies, in part due to price competition and delivery reliability, it was interesting to see that the ‘alliances in the operating chain' issue nevertheless sharply declined in recent years, only ranking13th in 2012. ‘Co-design/co-production' also scores low. Hendrik Jan Kaal, Senior Managing Consultant Berenschot: ‘It would seem that the major uncertainty is pushing companies to primarily focus on everything that they can control themselves. We can only hope that they will not neglect their networking role and keep their eye sufficiently focused on the outside world.'

Despite the positive approach, the economy definitely determines the quality of strategy formulation. The strategic process of the Dutch business community seems to suffer most from the ‘uncertainty about the future' (32%). On the other hand, choices are more frequently made and put into practice than in previous years. The major stumbling block for implementing the strategy is operational pressure. Other hindrances are a shortage of the right competencies and too much focus on internal processes.

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