Looking into the crystal ball of PwC

Today PwC launched their 22nd Annual Global CEO Survey in Davos.

There are three clear themes emerged from the surveys:

  1. Reality check – CEOs are less optimistic and less confident in growth compared to last year.
  2. Looking inside-out for growth – CEOs have more narrowed focus mostly on doing business in the markets they operate.
  3. Minding the information and skills gap - The gap between the information CEOs need and what they get has not closed in the past ten years, obviously we cannot rein big data. There are shortage of skilled talents. And finally CEOs are working to bridge the gaps in their own capabilities.  But I wonder how they do it……..

What keeps CEO’s awake – the top threats in 2019

  1. Over-regulation
  2. Policy uncertainty (new threats compared to 2018)
  3. Availability of skills
  4. Trade conflicts (new threats compared to 2018)
  5. Cyber threats
  6. Geopolitical uncertainty
  7. Protectionism (new threats compared to 2018)
  8. Populism
  9. Speed of technological change
  10. Exchange rate volatility

Interestingly climate change and environmental damage and terrorism dropped off from the top 10 list compared to 2018. Although there is a big cry for help from our planet.

CEOs appear to be less certain about their expansion plans outside their home markets. Faced with the new realities, organisations are turning inward to drive revenue growth.

Top 3 areas to drive revenue growth in the upcoming 12 months:

  1. Operational effectiveness - Hopefully the focus more on deconstructing jobs in order to see what can be automated, augmented, shored and what can remain as a human task, and less on squeezing more out of the already drained workforces.
  2. Organic growth
  3. Launch of new product and services

55% of CEOS said that they are not able to innovate effectively along with the data that 44% said that they are unable to pursue market opportunities is due to lack of skills and capabilities within the organisations.

Closing the gap in skills

Due to the scarcity of labour market in certain areas there are more and more CEOs are looking into upskilling/retraining existing workforces. Although they need to think more out of box to consider groups like older people, mothers coming back from maternity leave or those that are more interested in flexible working arrangements.

So clearly we can see from the data that CEOs need to learn how to lead through paradoxes and manage ambiguity and uncertainty. Otherwise their focus will be further narrowed which though a natural survival reaction both at personal and corporate level. They have to expand their leadership capacity to be, think and lead in a transformational way and learn how to constantly renew themselves.

They also need to learn how to turn threats into opportunities, to upskills themselves on scenario planning due to the constant change and take some more risks.

Bob Moritz closed his panel by emphasizing the importance of that governments and business community should work together to tackle the complex challenges of today in order to succeed in the big picture.

Source: https://www.pwc.com/gx/en/ceo-survey/2019/report/pwc-22nd-annual-global-ceo-survey.pdf

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