3 converging trends for SMBs and our response to them

Time to read: 4 minutes

It was January of 2020, and I had just attended a talent conference, as I do every year.

It’s a time I look forward to as I can reflect on the previous year. I know how the organization performed, how I performed, and I have an opportunity to have some strategic conversations with my peers.

As I was flying back, I was going through the notes I took and the conversations I had, and three things stood out to me. They were three converging trends that I knew–as a small to medium business (SMBs)–our team needed to address to have success and thrive in the coming years.

Here are those three converging industry trends:

  1. People issues will remain the #1 issue SMBs face in growing their business
  2. The technology disruption in the strategic HR/talent space will accelerate quickly (More companies will be using software to plan for their talent)
  3. The integration of software with one login for SMBs (Large companies already have this, and soon, software will offer one login to SMBs)

These three converging will impact every SMB, including our business. So it became apparent to me that we either needed to take advantage of these trends or become a victim of them.

To develop a plan to address the convergence of talent and technology, our team needed to answer three questions:

  • How do we help our clients/SMBs solve their people issues which will continue to be the number one issue they will be facing for years to come?
  • How do we add technology to our business to stay relevant?
  • How do we help our clients/SMBs prepare for the coming software integration?

As I share the journey that we went through to answer these questions, you should also ponder how the convergence of talent and technology will impact your business. What will be your answer to those three questions?

(Rather listen? )

The beginning of the journey

In what was crazy timing, the world shut down a few months after I returned. This provided us a break from our crazy pace of client work and allowed us to get together and intentionally answer the above questions.

The first thing we did to form a strategy around the trends was to research all the current technology/software products in the strategy and talent industries. During our comprehensive research, we noticed a gap.

There was no software available that helped SMBs address the convergence of talent and technology. We saw this as a blue ocean.

Next, we hired a software development company to interview twenty of our clients. We wanted to get our client’s input on what they saw coming, their greatest needs, and how it related to the three trends.

From those interviews, our clients validated the trends we were seeing and confirmed that we should take advantage of this blue ocean through software. From there, we built a prototype of the software.

Then, we presented the prototype to 30 companies. In addition to getting feedback and insight on where the industry is going and how our clients plan to respond, we had a ton of feedback to improve the prototype.

As we were going through this process, every day I was looking for a reason not to make the significant investment of time and resources to build and launch a software. I was hoping we could use another talent technology already out there, but it did not exist. Instead, all signs kept pointing to building software.

It’s what our clients need and what our consulting firm needs to survive and thrive in the coming technology disruption. It’s already happening, so we needed to figure out how to respond to it.

We then took the prototype to a software development company and tasked them with building a software solution that would solve our client’s people issues and accelerate their growth.

Over the past 24 months, we have gone through sprint after sprint, deciding what features to include and what to wait on with the primary objective to help SMBs solve their people issues through a Talent Plan.

As a result, we refined our Talent Planning Process, which guides you in creating your Strategy and Talent Plan in the software.

One of our most significant breakthroughs was realizing that we were building something bigger than software. We were creating a new category called Talent Planning.

Talent Planning is the combination of strategy, talent, and execution. First, you decide where you are going through your vision; then, you can create a Talent Plan to achieve it. It’s about creating a Strategy and Talent Plan that you execute through a consistent cadence to achieve the vision for your business.

It helps leaders shift from being reactive with their talent (i.e., being forced to make a hire after getting a two-week notice) to proactive (i.e., a 3-year Talent Plan for the leadership team and every department).

When you’re proactive, you will experience more significant growth as you minimize and solve your people issues before they impact your business.

The software, MyTalentPlanner, will be coming out in a few weeks (mid-March). We are excited about how it will help SMBs solve their #1 issue of people issues and accelerate growth.

The three big questions for your business

That was our journey to taking advantage of the three trends impacting SMBs. But as a leader of an SMB, you too must address and devise a response to the three trends that will impact your business. It’s not about if; it’s about when.

The three questions you and your team should think about and respond to are:

  1. How do we proactively resolve our people issues to accelerate growth?
  2. How do we use technology to plan and develop our talent?
  3. How do we prepare and/or take advantage of the software integration for SMBs?

By answering these three questions, you will ensure you thrive and grow into the future and not become a victim of the talent and technology disruption. It’s coming; what is your business going to do about it?

The future of talent is Talent Planning.

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