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Companies and organizations that put an emphasis on embracing change, putting their customers first, and deploying technology that is adaptive to fast-changing markets grew three times faster than their industry peers, according to a new Forrester report, Adaptive Firms Grow Three Times Faster Than Their Industry Peers.

“Adaptive strategies build on the foundation of the other two components of future fit strategy: creativity and resilience,” said Fiona Mark, a Forrester analyst and report co-author, in a blog post about the report. “Adaptive firms use customer obsession as their North Star, as delivering value is paramount. By focusing intently on the customer and constantly assessing the environment for opportunities, future fit leaders create better customer experiences, identify new markets, generate new products and attract and retain talent.”

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In spite of the COVID-19 pandemic, adaptive firms were still able to create new market offerings and customers with new services (such as curbside pick up for groceries), use technologies like robotic process automation to improve customer service while relieving employees of unneeded stress, differentiate themselves in their markets and attract the best talent, the report said.

To deliver on the promise adaptability brings to an organization, business leaders should:

  • Leverage net-new platforms and innovation: According to Forrester’s Q3 2020 North American Future Fit Technology Survey, adaptive firms are 38% more likely to prioritize digital transformation initiatives and focus on improving their business partners’ experience. Just over half (53%), said they improved their ability to innovate.
  • Anticipate emerging opportunities using predictive insights: Adaptive firms are 47% more likely to improve use of data to gain insights, 49% prioritize market differentiation and 38% focus on improving products and services.
  • Change their business model: Adaptive firms are 35% more likely to prioritize business model changes to take advantage of new opportunities, while 38% focus on improving their employees’ experiences.

“Tech execs at adaptive firms seek to build flexibility into their operating models,” Mark said. “Platform teams provide consistency, scalability and versatility. High-performing organizations structure themselves around the work that needs to be done, leveraging partner ecosystems to both unbundle work but also drive innovation.”

Adaptive frms continually work to reduce technology costs, speed delivery and embrace rapid change, the report said. They do this by adopting pre-assembled components and bundles with as little customization as possible to the underlying core technology. Shared accountability, where teams are empowered to make decisions and held accountable for the outcomes, is also a hallmark of adaptive organizations. They take full advantage of vendor ecosystems to augment in-house talent, technology and resources.

“In adaptive firms,” the report said, “the entire enterprise must be effective at rapid and continuous change as the business model shifts—redefining both what work the firm does and where it does it. Perhaps, most importantly, support for the rapid pace of change requires a significant portion of the work to come through ecosystem business partners. This means that the tech exec’s operating model must change frequently to support internal shifts in structures and employee experiences as well as integration and engagement with external partners.”