New Opportunities for Growth
The survey results showed that a popular solution when growth is challenged is to look in other geographic locations for growth. Responses mentioned other cities, states, countries and regions, as well as “new markets” would also include some geographic reach (though a new market can also be industry-related, or virtual).
“It is natural to use location hunting for growth when traditional and home markets are saturated or fading,” said Mr. Raskino. “However, this year the international part of such reach is complicated and compounded by a shift in the geopolitical landscape. Twenty-three percent of CEOs see significant impacts to their own businesses arising from recent developments in tariffs, quotas and other forms of trade controls. Another 58% of CEOs have general concerns about this issue, suggesting that more CEOs anticipate it might impact their businesses in future.”
Another way that CEOs seem to be confronting softening growth prospects and weakening margins is to seek diversification — which increasingly means the application of digital business to offer new products and revenue-producing channels. Eighty-two percent of respondents agreed that they had a management initiative or transformation program underway to make their companies more digital — up from 62% in 2018.
High Hopes for Technology
Cost management has risen in CEO priorities, from No. 10 in 2018 to No. 8 today. When asked about their cost-control methods, 27% of respondents cited technology enablement, securing the third spot after measures around people and organization, such as bonuses and expense and budget management. However, when asked to consider productivity and efficiency actions, CEOs were much more inclined to think of technology as a tool. Forty-seven percent of respondents mentioned technology as one of their top two ways to improve productivity.
Digital Skills for All Executives
Digital business is something the whole executive committee must be engaged in. However, the survey results showed that CEOs are concerned that some of the executive roles do not possess strong or even sufficient digital skills to face the future. On average, CEOs think that sales, risk, supply chain and HR officers are most in need of more digital savvy.
Once all executive leaders are more comfortable with the digital sphere, new capabilities to execute on their business strategies will need to be developed. When asked which organizational competencies their company needs to develop the most, 18% of CEOs named talent management, closely followed by technology enablement and digitalization (17%) and data centricity or data management (15%).
“Datacentric decision-making is a key culture and capability change in a management system that hopes to thrive in the digital age. Executive leaders must be a role model to encourage and foster data centricity and data literacy in their business units and the organization as a whole,” Mr. Raskino said.
Gartner clients can read more in the report “2019 CEO Survey: The Year of Challenged Growth.”
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