Image concerns force Dutch companies to radical changes

Dutch companies are greatly concerned with their own reputation and their industry’s image. They worry that negative publicity may have a detrimental impact on sales. The annual Strategy Trends 2015 survey, held by management consulting firm Berenschot by surveying 323 entrepreneurs, board members and senior managers in the Dutch private sector, finds that in 77% of boardrooms, image is at the top of the agenda.

Reputation and image are the most important strategic issue for Dutch companies. Organisations are under more scrutiny from customers and consumers than ever before, regardless of whether they operate in a business-to-business or business-to-consumer environment. Through extreme transparency, the necessity for being (inter)active increases. Many therefore choose to alter their customer relationships significantly.

More than 80% of those surveyed expect to fundamentally change their business model. Roel van Lanen, senior strategy consultant with Berenschot: “Only 20% choose to leave things unchanged. All others are in motion. This applies to troubled companies as well as successful ones. They adapt before it becomes necessary to do so and therefore remain in a permanent state of transition. They run pilots, are constantly trying something new, are eager and adapt their organisation continuously. This is the key to success for the coming years.”

Research from Tufts University shows that the Netherlands are rapidly losing their lead position in the digital realm. The private sector does, however, place digitalisation high upon the CEO’s agenda for the coming year. Two-thirds of all respondents considers it one of the most important strategic issues in 2015. “Digital disruption will be the biggest game changer for business models in the coming years. It has a very real impact on strategic choices. For those who ignore it, the commodity trap looms. For those who do take action on it, digitalisation can strengthen their competitive edge,” says Wieke Ambrosius, strategy consultant with Berenschot. This year, companies will therefore invest heavily in trends like new communication channels and big data.

A majority of Dutch companies expect to grow their revenues and profit this year, both domestic and internationally. This growth is primarily driven by small and medium enterprises. With expectations leaning positive, for the first time in years there are significantly more companies adding jobs than eliminating jobs. This does not apply to financial services and the energy sector, where most companies expect job losses this year. Job growth can be found primarily in industries investing heavily in innovation, such as manufacturing and professional services.

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