Top 3 takeaways from BDO’s Rethink Conference 2022—insights from our CEO

February 08, 2022

By Pat Kramer, CEO, BDO Canada

After what has been another year fraught with disruption, business leaders across all sectors are facing extraordinary pressure to pivot or perish—and the year ahead is predicted to be wrought with its own challenges.

BDO’s second Rethink Conference, held Jan. 20-21, brought together thought leaders from various industries to shed light on the trends, threats, and opportunities that will define 2022.

As we continue to navigate tectonic shifts in the business landscape, a rapidly changing pandemic, and the growing impacts of climate change, I’d like to share three key lessons I took away from this year’s Rethink Conference to help us progress together.

1. Environmental, social, and governance (ESG) considerations have rapidly become a pillar of value creation for organizations.

Facing new government-mandated ESG reporting standards, stakeholder and investor expectations, and increased supply chain scrutiny, companies both public and private will be forced to redefine their ESG efforts in the years ahead.

In a fireside chat during the conference, renowned economist Mark Carney explored the value of good ESG management to organizations and shared three essential ways you can lead a purposeful organization and contribute to the achievement of the net-zero target. The video is now available on demand.

We’re already seeing ESG prioritized higher on the corporate agenda, and it will only continue to move up. Assessing how it fits into your strategic objectives can result in sustainable, long-term growth and profitability, as socially responsible business practices drive increased stakeholder engagement, stronger customer loyalty, improved risk management, innovation, and better employee retention and productivity.

2. Organizations need greater visibility over their supply chains.

Over the past year, volatility related to the COVID-19 pandemic, labour shortages, and extreme weather events led to supply chain disruptions and increased costs for transportation and logistics. In fact, supply chains are seeing the most challenges they’ve ever seen in history.

Many business leaders have made great strides in improving the resiliency of their organization’s supply networks—but eliminating the risk of supply chain snarls is, as one panellist in our Leading the race: Leadership and supply chain resilience discussion said point-blank: impossible.

The key to supply chain resilience isn’t striving to remove risk—it’s finding ways to anticipate and manage it. The right government policies play a critical role in ensuring business continuity, but there are steps directly within the company’s control. Data and tools like machine learning and artificial intelligence are essential for predicting disruption, planning for change, and responding appropriately, ultimately strengthening supply chains.

3. As digital transformation efforts continue, business leaders should now focus on optimizing processes and securing digital avenues.

COVID-19 pushed many businesses to transform their operations through digital and advanced operational approaches. From embracing brand new tools enabling employees to work remotely to adopting e-commerce platforms, what once seemed out of reach was implemented in a matter of weeks. Companies that welcomed digital tools fared better than those that lagged or resisted change, and many saw decreased operating costs and minimized disruption to operations during lockdowns.

Coming in to the third year of the pandemic, the advantages of a digital-first approach have proven effective. Now that many businesses have overcome, at least somewhat, the initial growing pains of digital adoption, the focus should be on learning the finer points of their digital stack, using the right metrics to measure its effectiveness, and, perhaps most importantly, making cybersecurity a business priority.

New technologies open growth opportunities for organizations, but they also invite substantial business risk if not managed intentionally and strategically. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that simply having the right people, processes, and technologies in place will protect you against a cyber attack. Innovation and change will give rise to new vulnerabilities that organizations must be ready to mitigate. Remember: cybersecurity is an ever-evolving function.

Get ahead of the coming change: Rethink is now available on demand

In today’s challenging business environment, the stakes are higher, the risks are greater, and the competition is fiercer than ever before. With the right strategies, the year ahead can be a chance to rebuild, innovate, and grow. Here at BDO Canada, we’re eager to share insights and work together as business leaders to help grow Canada’s economy.

Recorded sessions of BDO’s Rethink Virtual Conference 2022 are now available on demand. Hear from top business thinkers and influencers on the topics covered above, and many more.

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