A recent media report offered insight into the lifespan of a typical company operating within the current global environment.

The report referred to various sources, chief amongst which was a presentation by John Hagel, a well known author and business consultant, and put the number of years an S&P 500 company could expect to be around at fifteen.

It is a sobering thought. There was much food for thought in this report and the several findings of documented research, including the results of a CYBEA Journal investigation into profit-per-employee among the S&P 500 companies.

According to this investigation for every time the number of employees is tripled, productivity is cut by half.

The article also likened the management of a company to the operation of a machine, drawing parallels between aspects such as design, maintenance and control. However, it was the author’s introduction of the concept of a company as a growing organism and not simply a machine that really captured the imagination.

It is a clever analogy because it speaks to the level of challenges that operators across various industries and sectors face on a daily basis. It also reiterates the fact that as businesses grow and become more complex, so too do the challenges.

In this environment decision makers have to work smarter and thereby enhance their ability to withstand the pressure and capitalize on opportunity. They have to review the ‘organism’ they are managing, look for weaknesses or defects and utilise resources as strategically as possible.

This means understanding the nature of the business and exactly what drives it. It means gaining perspective on the inner-workings of the operation, the mechanics of daily functioning and the roles that people and technology play.

The environment is tough and so too is the competition. If companies are seen as ‘living organisms’ or ‘beings’, then it is plausible to associate them with the complexities and dynamics of an individual competing for resources in order to advance. They require consistency in terms of acquiring the basics in order to sustain the ‘life’, they have to avoid danger and use their available strengths to negotiate challenges and progress.

We are now at a very interesting and poignant stage of development in commerce. The advent of managed ICT services and related infrastructure, the ability to access information anywhere, anytime and use this data across various platforms represents a new way of doing business.

The growth of the social network and implications for network management, administration and security also represent a dynamic and expanding frontier in business.

People, communication, security and data form the fabric of external and internal information and communication systems. Service providers have mushroomed, sourcing sustenance from emerging businesses and budding entrepreneurs, and are obliged to demonstrate their value, knowledge, credibility and experience from the get-go.

Partnerships and acquisitions continue to make headlines and this also is indicative of an active marketplace that is highly influential and has much more to offer – to the right ‘organism’ and the right management.

The media report I have referred to left another firm impression on the mind – the need for decision makers in business today to watch, listen, adjust and adapt. These functions are critical if the ‘organisms’ that are put into operation daily and used to generate profit, are to do so effectively.