Digital disruption, global reach, and the changing workplace affect us all, and at all levels – individual, team, organisation and community. So how can we become fit for the future?

It’s a question that futurist Gihan Perera attempted to answer at a recent WA Property Management Insights event, held in conjunction with and Macquarie Bank.

Perera is a futurist, conference speaker, author and consultant and used the event to give property managers, business development managers and business leaders a glimpse into what’s ahead – and how they can become fit for the future.

Perera is rated by Forbes magazine as the #5 social media influencer in the world. He’s worked with some of Australia’s most prominent thought leaders, change agents and entrepreneurs, helping them leverage their expertise, individually and in groups, on and off the internet.

At the recent Property Management Insights event, Perera spoke about the road ahead for property businesses in times of change, challenge and disruption.

“How can you make smart moves now to turn with the market and get ready for what’s coming next?” he asked.

Australia is well-placed to thrive in a new world

For most of the last 50 years, the world’s economy has been powered by the G7 nations: Canada, USA, UK, France, Germany, Italy and Japan. But Price Waterhouse Coopers (PWC) predicts that by 2030, the economic power of the G7 will be matched by seven emerging economies – the E7: Brazil, Mexico, Turkey, Russia, India, China and Indonesia.

Fast forward another 20 years to 2050, when it’s likely the power of the G7 has faded, PWC’s report predicts the rise of seven more countries, or the F7: Peru, Colombia, Nigeria, Morocco, Bangladesh, Philippines and Vietnam.

“Despite the fact that Australia isn’t one of these E7 or F7 countries, it’s still well-placed to shine and thrive in this new world,” Perera said. “Objectively, Australia has a number of highly-desirable features – democracy, education, stability and an enviable lifestyle.”

That in mind, Perera said, the businesses that recognise the opportunities this opens – and act on them – will race ahead.

The six biggest leadership challenges

The Study of Australian Leadership, Perera said, identifies the six biggest challenges Australia’s leaders face today as:

  1. Market and competitive pressures
  2. Operational challenges
  3. Government and regulation
  4. Human resources and human capital
  5. Technological disruption
  6. A volatile and uncertain environment

Perera said businesses must create a strategy that secures their defences and provides a stable foundation. Otherwise, they risk being blindsided by competition.

Focus on competition, not technology

New technology – including self-driving cars, social media, big data, artificial intelligence, robots, virtual reality, augmented reality, predictive analytics, gene-editing tools, 3D printers, drones, nanotechnology, and more has already come to light this century, Perera said.

“Given the decision to look at stability first, it’s better to focus first on competitive forces,” he said. “After all, a self-driving car won’t arrive and take your job. However, a company that uses self-driving in cars in its operations could well be a threat or disruptor to your business.”

Perera said using this technology to take the lead and disrupt your competition is the ideal – but it’s not always a realistic or feasible option given the market position. So where to from there? “A better starting point is understanding the disruptive forces that other organisations could bring to bear on your business,” he said.

Six disruptive forces that could turn your business upside down

  1. Competitors: Who are you currently fighting head to head for market share?
  2. Dominators: What happens do your corner store when Woolies and Coles move in? Is there an equivalent in your industry?
  3. Start-ups: The new players in your industry. They don’t have experience, resources and existing mind share, but they can operate with a more agile approach.
  4. Upstarts: These are the competitors from outside your current space who aren’t bound by the same rules and regulations as everyone else.
  5. Randoms: Someone from outside your industry – they’ll swoop in and disrupt without even intending to compete.

Align your business strategy

Perera said business leaders must create strategic plans in the face of these disruptive challenges and forces. To do that, leaders must align their business strategy with potential future competition.

When it comes to strategic planning, Perera said, leaders and their teams usually sit on one of these levels. “The first three generally correlate to poor performance, but the final three consider improved performance and productivity.”

  1. Absent: These teams don’t plan at all and think a strategic plan is obsolete as soon as it’s created. This can be dangerous, leading businesses to operate in chaos.
  2. Stale: Stale teams are led by leaders who do what has always been done. They will plan, but it’s based on experience, skills, competencies and industry knowledge. However, these factors are no longer enough. Work happens here, but with little regard for a changing environment.
  3. Brittle: If you’re in a brittle team, you’ll acknowledge that the old methods don’t work in a shifting environment, but you’re not sure how to plan differently. This can lead to creating short-term plans because you can’t see any further.
  4. Aware: An aware leadership team is one that is aware of some of the disruptive forces in their industry and understand what could affect their business. However, they might not understand how to create a plan that caters for this.
  5. Aligned: An aligned leadership team will align their business strategy with future possibilities. This team is both aware of challenges that face it, but also aligned with future possibilities and can create a strategic plan to position them for the future.
  6. Disruptive: The final level is to BE the disruptor, not the disrupted. These business not only embrace change, but will lead it. The businesses are the ones that ultimately change their industry. Could you be the disruptor in your industry?

Find out how Gihan could help you align your strategic plan with future trends. Visit or email 

Stay on top of what’s coming up for your work, your business and your life with Gihan Perera’s free app ‘Fit for the Future,’ where you’ll find the sources and resources that Perera uses himself to learn the future trends, technology, tools and techniques for becoming fit for the future. Gihan Perera’s app ‘Fit for the Future’ is free and available now for both iOS and Android devices.

Gihan Perera

Gihan Perera is a futurist, conference speaker, author and consultant who gives business leaders a glimpse into what's ahead - and how they can become fit for the future.