Research Insights on Strategic Planning in Today’s Dynamic Business Environment

July 7, 2024

3

min read

At the Journey Platform, we work with CEOs and executive leadership teams to help them build and execute the most ambitious strategic plans. In that capacity, we’re currently working on our latest product, Contextual AI, which focuses on KPI management in internal meetings. With Contextual AI, our users will provide the initial context of their current strategic plan’s status and targets, and our AI copilot will help them optimize their plan and execution by participating in their internal meetings.

To ensure that this product serves its companies in the best way possible, we recently set out to understand how senior managers operate in today’s dynamic business environment. Specifically, we conducted research with U.S.-based C-levels and VPs to understand the prevalence of structured strategic planning and goal management frameworks across a number of industries. After interviewing and analyzing dozens of businesses, our research showed that a strong majority of companies in today’s U.S. business landscape are adopting and using structured frameworks to guide their strategic planning efforts. However, many of these efforts could be significantly optimized. Below we share five key findings. How do these findings resonate with your business?

Finding #1: Most companies today still use Excel sheets to create their annual plans, and rely on meetings to build these plans and track their progress.

A striking 73% of companies we interviewed rely on Microsoft Excel or other spreadsheet applications to create their annual plans. The remaining use platforms specifically designated for building an annual strategic plan. Regardless of the framework or tools, one common theme unites these companies: meetings are their primary tool for planning and progress management. Interviewees shared again and again that these meetings are pivotal for aligning team efforts and ensuring that everyone is on the same page.

Finding #2: Shorter-term objectives and goals are essential to managers in helping teams stay aligned with and progress towards annual goals. 

In today’s often volatile market, companies are taking a granular approach to goal setting, breaking down annual goals into quarterly and monthly targets. This method helps teams stay focused and adapt to changes swiftly. Our research shows that 75% of companies break down their annual goals into shorter-term objectives, enabling close monitoring of progress and making necessary real-time adjustments in monthly meetings. This approach ensures alignment with their long-term vision.

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Finding #3: The top three challenges executive managers face in executing on strategic plans are resource management, effective communication, and navigating market conditions.

Despite structured planning, companies face significant challenges. Resource constraints are a major hurdle for 60% of companies, often manifesting as insufficient staff or budget to execute plans effectively. Some companies continue using Excel sheets for KPI tracking due to cost constraints, even as they explore more advanced platforms. Additionally, 55% of companies struggle with communication inefficiencies, particularly in hybrid work environments. Effective communication tools and strategies are essential to ensure seamless collaboration across distributed teams. 

Ensuring strategies align with market realities is another challenge. 40% of companies experience occasional misalignment with market conditions. To stay on track, companies must continuously evaluate and refine their strategies, conducting regular reviews and making necessary adjustments.

Notably, 30% of companies cited external dependencies as a reason for not achieving their goals, and 1 in 5 companies pointed to internal conflicts as a significant obstacle.

Finding #4: Openness to AI and new technologies is growing.

Despite these challenges and an overreliance on more traditional software, like Excel, there is a growing openness to adopting new technologies, particularly AI. In fact, an impressive 80% of companies are willing to integrate AI tools into their operations, often starting with pilot programs to test effectiveness. Senior managers and their teams use AI tools for efficiency improvements, optimizing search engine marketing, and managing email marketing programs.

Finding #5: When assessing new technologies, one of the most important factors senior managers consider is ease of integration with existing systems.

When assessing a new technology, its integration capabilities are a critical consideration. 70% of companies prioritize tools that can seamlessly integrate with existing systems to minimize disruptions and maximize efficiency gains. Despite challenges with static workbooks, some companies continue using Excel due to its familiarity and ease of integration. 

At Journey, this finding was particularly important to us as we built Contextual AI, and this is why we created the most intuitive KPI table, similar to a sheet, but with added integrations to ensure all KPI updates are up to date and seamlessly provide the context to our AI copilot.

Conclusion

Our research underscored the importance of structured strategic planning and highlighted common challenges companies face. By adopting structured frameworks, breaking down goals into manageable targets, and cautiously embracing new technologies, organizations can navigate these challenges more effectively. Understanding these trends helps us tailor our solutions to meet businesses' real needs, driving engagement and fostering long-term success. 

Join us on this journey to revolutionize KPI management and make your internal meetings more productive and aligned with your strategic goals. Experience the future of planning and execution with our Contextual AI.

Learn more about Journey AI

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

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In a rapidly changing market, how often should a business reassess its value proposition to stay relevant? In a rapidly changing market, how often should a business reassess its value proposition to stay relevant?

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How can storytelling enhance a value proposition and engage customers? How can storytelling enhance a value proposition and engage customers? How can storytelling enhance a value proposition and engage customers? How can storytelling enhance a value proposition and engage customers?

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Can you provide examples of successful companies that have effectively differentiated their value propositions using AI? Can you provide examples of successful companies that have effectively differentiated their value propositions using AI?

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How does differentiation give a business a competitive edge? How does differentiation give a business a competitive edge? How does differentiation give a business a competitive edge?

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A value proposition is a concise statement that communicates the benefits a customer will gain from a product or service. It's vital for businesses as it defines their unique position in the market and helps attract and retain customers.