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Veni, vidi, VUCA

The collapse of UK distributor Beta Distribution is a stark reminder of the volatility of the IT sector and another example of an established name being consigned to the history books by the winds of change that continue to howl around us and challenge the industry tenets that have served us well for so long.

The American military use the term ‘VUCA’ in such situations. It’s an acronym for Volatile, Uncertain, Complex and Ambiguous, which I think perfectly describes today’s operating environment. Everything seems up in the air, the landscape constantly shifting shape like a desert in a sandstorm.

At a dinner for our customers some time ago, former English Women’s Rugby Captain Abi Chamberlain explained how when the team was under pressure, they’d go back to what they called ‘Blanket Play’. Players would revert to their most familiar positions and concentrate on doing the basics well: no animated play, no fancy moves, no glory moments, just keeping the pattern of play simple.

The recent situation with Beta reminds us of the value of our industry’s own ‘Blanket Play’ of positive cashflow, diligent credit management, optimised stockholding and minimal currency exposure. It’s not about eliminating risk; it’s about managing risk, controlling the controllables and rehearsing your response to any known unknowns that might come to life.

What’s your blanket play?

See you out there.
Phil Jones MBE, Managing Director, Brother UK

Twitter: @philjones40

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2018