5 things keeping CEOs up at night

Perhaps more than at any other point in the history of humanity, we are witnessing change unfurling around us at an unprecedented pace. It is impacting the we live, work, socialize, and broaden our understanding of the world.

For business leaders, the challenges are multi-fold. In a Frost & Sullivan survey of CEOs worldwide, business leaders expressed uneasiness about their companies’ ability to maintain growth in an increasingly competitive environment. 34% of CEO respondents specifically cited “speed of technology changes” as a top challenge to growth. With the sheer pace of technological change, it is not uncommon to see just-released enhancements rapidly disrupted by a newly launched competitive offering. The key then is to build businesses that are change resilient, and ready to cater to the needs of a world in flux.

The Frost & Sullivan Information, Communications & Technologies team identified ways to address the top five concerns raised by CEOS in their survey.

Meeting customer expectations

36% of CEOs listed “customer satisfaction” as the top driver for growth. Concomitantly, 48% of CEOs cite “changes in customer behavior and demands” as a top challenge. This is perhaps underpinned by the fact that technology has been a great leveler; a new generation of customers expect to conduct business with you anytime, anywhere, and are less likely to be brand-loyal, which leaves an opening for your competitor to step in.

Responding to competitive disruption

53% of CEOs stated that “a highly competitive environment” is their biggest growth challenge. A broadening of the playing field in recent years is no doubt a big contributor to this, as traditional boundaries blur and the industry redefines the companies it is traditionally pitted against.

Leveraging big data analytics

53% of CEOs cited “intelligent data analytics” as a key growth driver, while 67% rated their company’s ability to derive insight from data as “fair” or “poor.” Furthermore, competitors’ use of intelligent data analytics tops the list of potential disruptive threats (cited by 45% of CEOs). As we churn out more data per minute than any other generation of humankind before us, it is imperative that future CEOs build their data analysis capacity, and glean insights from the doubtlessly vast repertoire of data available to them.

Continuous innovation

Even as C-suite executives remain committed to a continuous stream of innovation, “managing innovation” is ranked third on the list of key growth objectives in the next five years, as stated by 34% of CEOs. Yet, 51% of CEOs say their company’s ability to deliver on an innovation strategy is fair or weak. This lack of confidence may reflect on a lack of resources committed to innovation, a strategic alignment that is required, or maybe even a redefining of the business strategy itself.

Finding strategic technology partners

“Strategic partnerships” were the top-listed technology strategy for growth over the next three years, cited by 48% of CEOs. Yet, 54% rated their organization’s ability to implement a partnership strategy as fair or weak. The modern-day CEO rightly expects to leverage technology expertise by strategically aligning with market leaders, but these findings could well hint at the struggle to reconcile the “Do-It-Yourself’ attitude with the need to find the right technology partners to build towards the future with.

So how can CEOS sleep better at night?

Business transformation is a challenge for every business function, right from the C-suite leaders to those charged with implementing it. Enabling this transformation will require enterprises to rethink how they create value today and in the future, because incremental growth is not enough to come to come out on top in an age of exponential disruption. Succeeding in the face of near constant disruption requires agile reinvention, because we can only succeed by continually evolving for the here and now and the future.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Economic Times – ET Edge Insights, its management, or its members

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