On Tuesday from the World Economic Forum in Davos we announced the results of our 18th Annual Global CEO Survey which allows us to gain valuable insights into today's business challenges as well as the trends and issues shaping decision-making tomorrow.
Once again more than 1,300 CEOs around the world shared with us their views on the global economy, business strategy and the outlook for their companies in the months and years ahead. From a UK perspective our survey shows that UK CEOs are more confident than their European peers, but the high levels of optimism we saw last year have been tempered by concerns about access to key skills, disruptive trends and geopolitical uncertainty.
The digital dilemma
Despite the continued - if someone decreased - levels of optimism, the digital revolution is presenting both opportunities and challenges for UK CEOs (and their global peers) as they see technological change as both a significant disrupter and driver of business opportunities. Some key takeaways from the report:
- This year 59% of UK CEOs are concerned by the speed of technological change, up from 55% last year, and one in three (33%) believe that a potential competitor to their business is emerging or could emerge from the technology industry.
- The digital technologies UK CEOs are paying specific attention to are data mining and analysis (79%), cybersecurity (79%) and mobile technologies (75%). Both in creating new value for customers and shaping their operations, CEOs are fully aware of the profound impacts that digital technologies are having across all industries.
- In line with their counterparts around the world, most UK CEOs point to the greater operational efficiency (90%) and the enhanced customer experience (82%) that digital technologies enable them to deliver. Mobile technologies, in particular, are seen as a key driver of customer engagement and experience by three-quarters of UK CEOs.
- Perhaps not surprisingly cybersecurity is a high priority to UK CEOs and we anticipate these concerns to rise further in light of recent high-profile attacks and the clear reputational damage a cyber-attack can cause. an assessment that is reflected in the 75% of UK CEOs who cite brand and reputation as a key digital concern
We video interviewed a number of UK CEOs which can be found on our YouTube playlist and below is one with RBS Group Chief Executive, Ross McEwan, who discusses how important technology is to retain customers, especially the younger generation.
"A normal bank would lose around three to four percent of its customers on an annual basis and this is just standard. If you don't have good mobile technology the youth market will move at about 25 percent per annum if your mobile technology isn't up to speed." RBS Group Chief Executive, Ross McEwan
Quite clearly the impact of digital technologies on business will continue to be a prominent topic in the foreseeable future for UK CEOs and their counterparts. This constant world in beta will throw up new challenges and opportunities as new technological innovations are introduced to the market and indeed the necessity for business agility will never be more apparent.
Competition will never be greater among established companies, but not just from old guard competitors but from new innovative start-ups with unique propositions that promise to disrupt an industry along with the status quo. CEOs of all industries will need to adapt to this radical change in a number of ways but namely by embracing technology, bringing in the right talent and by fostering a culture of innovation, experimentation and continuous learning.