The nature of the way we do business is changing forever and it's not just digital disruption behind the shift.

Collaboration is overtaking competition, social media is putting the consumer in charge and the speed of these transformations is accelerating.

Smart firms today challenge industry conventions by revamping business models and injecting innovation into well-established practices.

Is your business nimble and resilient? Are you continually reassessing your place in the market? Here are eight questions every business strategist must ask themselves in 2015.


1. Are you prepared to be disrupted?
An increasing number of industries are facing disruption as digitisation creates opportunities for radically more cost-efficient business models. Xero is disrupting the accounting market, Uber has rattled the taxi industry and AirBnB is expected to impact hotels now it has entered the New Zealand market. Firms must question existing business models and be prepared to develop new ones.

2. Are you digitalising your business?
Customers want a fast and flawless digital experience - and they want it now. Replacing manual processes with software can save considerable amounts of time and money and you can offer a personalised interface, 24-hour access and real-time data. But don't stop at automating existing processes - look for opportunities to rework your methods entirely.

3. Do you have adequate data analytics in place?
As firms, markets and society become digitalised, there is a need to develop new analytical capabilities. With data, we can predict better outcomes and even prescribe better business decisions. This might mean developing new positions within your organisation to ensure someone is asking the question: what does the data tell us?

4. Are you looking into the opportunities of robotics?
Computer science and engineering combine to create robotic technology that will impact not only manufacturing but also service delivery. Robotics is already being used and extensively tested in healthcare, farming and transport and, when combined with analytics and artificial intelligence, there is potential for creating incredibly smart machines. How can your business use robotics?

5. Are you competing when you should be collaborating?
New Zealand firms have a competitive mindset but more collaboration is needed to be successful in international markets. Instead of competing for the same customers, they could be working together to grow their market. Innovative firms are leading the way by opening up and working in networks. What could your industry gain from collaboration?

6. Are you planning when you should be acting?
The old paradigm of analysis, planning and implementation does not work in today's complex business environment and may lead to 'paralysis through analysis'. Issues can become over-complicated and cause projects to stall. Smart firms will take a systematic approach to experimentation; any failures can generate valuable information to decide the next step.

7. Are you investing in new forms of innovation?
Innovation is more than inventing new products and services - firms also need creativity in their business models and find more successful ways of doing things. Are you selling your product or the service that makes your product possible? Challenging industry conventions and revamping well-established practices may seem radical but could result in completely new and exciting market opportunities.

8. Are you cutting costs?
Cutting costs is always necessary - it improves your bottom line and makes your organisation more resilient. Work smarter by making key activities more efficient and effective and avoid the tendency to make cuts across the whole business. While cutting costs in each department may be "fair", you could be harming the most profitable areas.