CEO’s brace for future packed with dramatic change
Business leaders are conservative, play it safe, protect the status quo types, right?
Maybe not, based on a just-released IBM study of some1,000 CEOs and public sector leaders worldwide.
The key ingredients for a successful future may just be characterized by a hunger for change. Many kinds of change. Loaded with imaginative, breakthrough thinking. Disrupting established business “rules”. Totally wired to customers, partners, suppliers, employees.
Those are just a few of the findings from the biennial IBM Global CEO Study 2008: The Enterprise of the Future. This year’s study was the largest of its kind and involved face-to-face interviews with more than a thousand leaders around the globe.
On a speedway to the future
Not surprisingly, these leaders anticipate that change is here to stay. Their concern was less with the facts of change and more on the rate of change now and in the future. What had been fast-paced change anticipated in 2006 has turned into a speedway challenge – and many enterprise leaders are struggling to keep up.
There’s a 22% gap between how CEOs rate their ability to manage change successfully versus their expected need to deal with change. That’s nearly triple the number of CEOs concerned with keeping pace or getting ahead of the change curve compared with the 8% who had that concern in 2006.
Focus on opportunity
The challenges ahead aren’t for the faint of heart, but two-thirds of the CEOs interviewed plan to step up boldly to those challenges with significant investment where they see the greatest potential for prosperity.
In just one instance, one real estate CEO pointed out that there’s going to be more development in India over the next 20 years – an estimated 400 million consumers will want new housing – than has been built in the United States since the Second World War.
The billion-user Internet
With the Internet becoming nearly ubiquitous, three quarters of the CEOs said they see a new breed of informed and empowered consumer. They also anticipate an opportunity to differentiate their companies by tapping into that collective body of knowledge and opinion to to shape their products and offerings for the future.
New technologies ranging from virtual worlds to social networking tools can make the consumer a partner in designing products and services that are closely aligned with changing market tastes and needs.
The everywhere-anytime connection
The concept of globalization continues to evolve, from cost-driven decisions to outsource or relocate business operations to opening new markets by accessing the best resources wherever they are found.
Of those interviewed, 85% plan on partnering and 66% will use mergers and acquisitions as the make fundamental changes to the way their organizations’ capabilities and skills mix.
Why? Because we can!
One common theme played throughout the interviews. CEOs are changing their business models. The changes are partly in response to the forces driving world markets, but also are a result of access to tools and capabilities they’ve never had before.
The Internet allows them to enter niche markets and reshape processes, delivery channels and ways of partnering.
Three ways they are innovating:
Committed to social responsibility
CEOs see themselves as the focus of attention by a new generation of information-rich and socially minded customers, workers and investors. CEOs increasingly recognize the importance of corporate social responsibility for attracting new talent, breaking into new markets, and protecting their brand.
The subject is on virtually every corporate agenda, with a quarter of the CEOs saying they will increase their investment in this area, largely through a greater focus on developing new “green” products.
You can download your copy of the 2008 CEO study, The Enterprise of the Future.