While reviewing the materials for the week, I couldn’t help but draw parallels between the external strategic environment articles and my day to day work. The content of the readings fundamentally proves that external economic trends, global forces, societal values, legislation, and regulation will deeply impact the strategic plan, regardless of the size or industry association of an organization.
I currently work for a company that was historically built and funded through angel, government, grants, and capital investment. Because of these constraints, the majority of the technology was built to adhere to requirements that were derived outside of the building’s four walls. For a bit of background - our founder holds numerous patents associated with advanced chemical imaging sensors; technology that when coupled with software can provide predictive safety and healthy alerts.
As the global news has illustrated, there are external forces breaking the trend of international collaboration and trade. For example, trade policies, sanctions, or border concerns may result in the need and funding for sensors that can detect illicit materials crossing the maritime shipping space. Because Republican leaders are more likely to dedicate budget dollars towards this type of agenda, the direction of our company has reacted and shifted from life sciences (imaging or diagnostics) to military applications and the needs of the U.S. department of defense. Not only is the domestic market demanding advanced technology in this space, but we have received interest from individuals abroad that would extend the product’s market share globally.
One additional example (external of my work) of this in real-time is the increased funding of the military and of the U.S./Mexico border wall put in place by President Trump. The rationale behind Trump’s decision to double the budget of the American military stems from his belief that previous presidential decisions have weakened the American military.  Regardless of the political views of many American organizations, thousands have shifted their priorities to be able to accommodate the shift in external environment, raising their hands to help build the wall due to lucrative contracting. 
Because of this movement, there is no doubt that the turn of events offers us an opportunity for additional funding, federal contracts, and revenue potential. Our team has spent significant time analyzing the economy, regulations associated with our products, and the government influence that impacts our direction. The results of this effort steered us to aggressively bid for multi-million dollar federal contracts that did not exist prior to the Republican entrance. Keep in mind, this means that our current product development efforts were shifted in under a year’s time.
However, as stated in the McKinsey Article “The Four Global Forces Breaking All the Trends”, the world is more connected through trade and the movement of people than ever, which also results in volatility. Therefore, while I think that in the short-term building software for military applications is logical for fiduciary reasons, the rest of the globe may ultimately influence the longevity of the military movement. Gathering a holistic view of the government influence is extremely important, and will be an ongoing, iterative process for our leaders.
Overall, analyzing the eternal strategic environment is a very interesting topic. To me, you can never have enough data and research to support the funding of a product concept. However, we can become more prepared and make smarter decisions by focusing on the competitive forces of the industry and the ever-changing factors that dictate the future.
- Abigail Hardt (ahardt)