By Jenine Waters , Partner, People Advisory and Kamal Prasad , Partner, Technology Advisory. This article has been replicated with permission from 


The recent release of the BDO European Survey highlights key issues that business could face in the next five years; equipping leadership teams with practical insights and knowledge to combat or leverage them. Drawing out the key themes of the European survey and reviewing our own BDO Australia Growth Index - an analysis of the Australian middle-market - we’re sharing two key ways businesses can accelerate their growth around the globe, with advice from our experts on how to incorporate them into your business.

1. They actively attract and invest in their people/talent

In any business, it is your people that are your greatest strength - or inhibitor - when it comes to consistent growth and success. They bring knowledge, skills and new ways of thinking that when combined with a culture of learning can take your businesses to new levels. The European Survey found that of all the factors driving business’ growth strategies, attracting and retaining high-quality talent was considered the ‘most important’ by 22% of businesses and ‘very important’ by 74%, indicating how important investing in your people are for growth.

This strong need to attract and retain quality talent was a theme that also emerged in our Growth Index which analysed business growth drivers within the Australian middle-market. People Advisory Partner, Jenine Waters, explains that middle-market businesses often face difficulties in their search to attract quality people as well as experiencing higher levels of staff turnover as this is often because as they grow their leaders are faced with competing priorities and their ability to focus on talent can be impacted. Jenine says,

Retaining talent is not just about remuneration – deliberately aligning your performance and reward systems to the culture you wish to create or retain is critical”. She notes also, that “as businesses grow often their structures and processes grow organically and may reach a point where they are no longer enabling the business to achieve their goals. When this happens often one of the signs is a dip in engagement or an increase in staff turnover. Organisations who take the time to assess their operating model so that they can align their structures, process and people to the organisation’s strategic goals will also go a long way to improving their ability to attract and retain the right talent for their business and accelerate growth”.

2. They are leveraging their data and embracing new technologies

The importance of data and digitisation strategies in accelerating business growth was a central theme of the European Survey which found that 54% of respondents said they intended to use technology to drive transformational change over the next five years. Moreover, it highlighted the necessity for businesses today to develop ‘big data’ strategies outlining how they will use, collect and leverage data in order to support and take advantage of new opportunities.

Explaining in our Growth Index how Australian middle-market businesses can build their data capabilities, Technology Advisory Partner, Kamal Prasad says,

While many businesses are gathering and holding an unprecedented amount of data, it is not being effectively used for day-to-day decision making. Traditional approaches to data insights are limited to building nice interactive dashboards - which the business finds hard to use or have doubts about the data unpinning it”.

In lieu of this, Kamal suggests that middle-market businesses “look beyond creating dashboards, and view their data as a strategic asset with well-defined data governance and management practices, combined with structured change management to embed a data-driven decision-making culture”.

Finally, he noted that one of the most critical things businesses tend to forget when looking to undertake data-oriented or digitisation project is cybersecurity. He explains that even though SMEs are more likely to be targeted when it comes to cyberattacks, they often don’t think about cybersecurity till it’s too late.

These issues around cybersecurity were reiterated in the survey which outlined several important issues that middle-market businesses will need to factor into their risk assessments going forward, including:

  • Understanding the business’s data protection and privacy responsibilities
  • Ensuring compliance with regulatory bodies (like the OAIC’s Notifiable Data Breaches Scheme)
  • Conducting regular and thorough risk assessments for handling personal data (including customers, employees and other stakeholders).

To find out more about the trends driving business growth domestically and globally, please see our Growth Index and the European Survey.

Jenine Waters and Kamal Prasad

Jenine Waters and Kamal Prasad

Jenine is our Partner leading People Advisory based out of Sydney. Jenine is skilled at partnering with organisations to design and implement business driven people solutions with a focus on HR effectiveness, Organisation effectiveness, change management and virtual HR support. Kamal Prasad is a Partner of the Technology Advisory team in Sydney. He is a highly experienced IT Advisory practitioner, with over 20 year’s global cross-sector experience.

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