Can You Prepare for What you Can’t Predict?

How to survive and thrive in the VUCA chaos. Marketers are advised to take proactive steps to prepare for various potential outcomes. This involves being aware of the inherent risks in the market, understanding one's risk tolerance, and having a well-thought-out yet flexible strategy.

Reading Time: 5 min 


  • The business world is caught in an ironic twist. The more we strategise to combat complexity, the more complex our strategies need to become. This paradox creates a volatile and ambiguous environment in which traditional approaches falter.

    Ten years ago, less than 20% of business leaders could lead in the Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity, and Ambiguity (VUCA) world. While the number has substantially increased today, business leaders are still unsteady and uncertain about navigating the changing conditions ranging from interconnected economies, market fluctuation, and regulatory changes to changing consumer behaviour, data overload, and advancing technology. 

    But nothing is lost yet. The added complexities in the VUCA world are pushing leaders to rethink and refine their approaches.

    Innovation and disruptive thinking are not just options; it’s a necessity. Business leaders must adopt a mindset of continuous creativity, embracing new technologies and digital transformation. 

    The Role of CX leaders

    As a function that is obsessed with understanding customers, and how the world is impacting them, marketing and CX leaders are uniquely positioned to understand and map the customer journey in the VUCA world. By deeply analysing customer interactions and feedback, they can identify pain points and opportunities for improvement, even amidst volatility and uncertainty.

    How to Thrive in the VUCA Chaos VMF Story Tarv Nijjar

    Agility is a crucial factor to foster a culture of responsiveness. How can marketers make sure that the CX transformation is organisation-wide? Tarv Nijjar, Senior Director of Business Insights and Analytics at McDonald’s discusses five key steps.

    Customer lens 

    You can only do a CX transformation by putting the customer first.

    Data throttle 

    Data drives everything. At each level of the CX transformation, one must be clear on what they are trying to do and how they will get there. Leaders must use data to make that happen every step of the way.

    Clean & clear

    You need a clear vision, communication with the organisation, and a clear understanding of each department’s role in the transformation.

    “It can’t be done without leadership buy-in and advocacy. So you’ve got to make sure that there’s the intention when you start on your journey to be able to get going and have that sponsorship from leadership, but also the progress as you go through that journey,” says Tarv.

    Leadership also involves developing leadership capacity at all levels of the organisation. This means investing in continuous learning and development opportunities for employees. By equipping employees with the skills and knowledge they need to lead, organisations can create a pipeline of future shared leadership ready to take on new challenges. 

    While the CX approach takes charge in the VUCA world, two significant transitions are set to catalyse the future of the business economy, especially for marketers. 

    The aftermath of ‘no cookies’

    How did global advertisers respond to Google Chrome’s third-party depreciation? A recent study revealed that more than 88.2% of marketers and advertisers believe that precise audience targeting and measurement is more important to their colleagues in the advertising industry than protecting consumer privacy.

    How to Thrive in the VUCA Chaos VMF Story Jobin Joy

    Jobin Joy, Global MarTech and Content Lead—Digital Marketing Capabilities at Vodafone shares his perspective on how marketers can innovate to capture more meaningful first-party data.  

    He believes that programmatic or performance marketing is one of the biggest spenders in modern advertising. “That’s how we push awareness about the brand to new customers. It’s how we bring traffic onto our channels. And it has to be done otherwise you will lose business. We’ve seen several cookie alternatives out there, but the commonality is the need for consumer identity to connect to the consumer.”

    Here’s where generative AI can step in—the second transition—and reconstruct the business landscape completely to fit smack centre in the VUCA world. “Gen AI is going to elevate content variation and help attain productivity at scale, along with the exploration of data,” adds Jobin. 

    This double-edged AI needs careful planning and guardrails. You need to make sure you have the right data. Without it, you cannot leverage artificial intelligence and solve the complexities that contribute to the business economy. 

    Jobin states that skills in using big data, machine learning, and generative AI will be vital. These technologies help marketers tailor experiences, optimise productivity, and scale operations effectively.

    The death of cookies and the advent of generative AI represent two main routes that businesses must traverse to stay ahead. The future belongs to those who are prepared to navigate these new routes in the VUCA world with foresight and resilience.

    Moving forward and upward with VUCA

    Industry leaders must leverage their historical strength and financial stability to move forward and remain relevant. This requires paying close attention to disruptors and startups, embracing continuous innovation, and differentiating themselves. To innovate effectively, leaders must identify and solve specific problems using a human-centric approach. They must build on their existing brand strength and reputation by transforming transactions into lasting customer relationships through innovation. 

    “How do you innovate? You’ve got to be really specific on what is the problem you’re trying to solve. So make sure you’re doing this using a human centric approach. You also have to build upon your brand strength and reputation. How do you turn all of those transactions into relationships and lifelong customers? You’ve got to make sure you focus on your customer and make sure you understand what it is that they want and where they are to respond as time moves on in the world that we are living in today,” adds Tarv. 

    The path forward in this ever-evolving VUCA environment is clear: innovate relentlessly, embrace technological advancements, and foster a culture of shared leadership. The irony of complexity driving more complexity can be transformed into a powerful impetus for growth and transformation. Business leaders who rise to this challenge will not only navigate the turbulent waters but also chart a course to new heights of success in any challenging weather of the VUCA world. 

    Vibe Martech Fest, the Middle East’s largest and most impactful marketing technology summit, is in its 14th global edition. This year, the agenda shifted towards an outcome-based marketing approach to help marketers tackle real-world challenges through strategies backed by real results. As business leaders navigate the (VUCA) world of marketing, the focal point of this edition was clear: equipping marketers with a strategic roadmap for the path forward. For more details, visit Vibe Martech Fest


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