KPMG survey finds that agile CEOs are confident of global growth

Two-thirds of chief executives around the world accept they will have to create "organisational agility" if they want their businesses to remain relevant, according to a new survey.

Illustration of the agile methodology model
This year's KPMG International Global CEO Outlook found that a majority of the 1,300 chief executives in 11 countries* remained confident of growth in the global economy over the next three years, although the percentage had fallen to 62% from 67% in 2018."CEOs are faced with a stark choice," said KPMG. "In the face of unparalleled environmental, economic and technological change, they are looking to grow their businesses by creating the organisational agility to disrupt existing business models and challenge long-held market orthodoxies."While more than half of respondents were confident of success, KPMG said 53% were "realistic" and were projecting three-year growth of a maximum of 2%.The survey also found confidence in hiring intentions, with 36% of CEOs projecting their companies would add more than 6% to their workforce over the coming three years.
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Bill Thomas, global chairman of KPMG International, said: "Succeeding in a world of volatility and uncertainty requires different leadership skills, particularly in large, multi-national organisations."It's no longer a question of simply defending your position and using scale to maintain competitive advantage. Today, CEOs need to be comfortable disrupting their business models by:
  • forging new strategic partnerships,
  • considering alternate M&A strategies
  • and increasing the skills of their workforces."

Global CEOs rate climate change as the biggest risk to business growth

The survey found that CEOs rated climate change as the biggest risk to their organisation's growth - the first time in five years it was rated a top concern compared to technological, territorial, cyber and operational risks."But with only a small margin between each of them, it paints a picture of a complex and ever shifting risk landscape," said KMPG. 
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Disrupting the status quo: part of the agile business model

"A majority of CEOs (84%) believe a 'fail-fast' culture is required in today's marketplace, in which lessons from failures are learned quickly, yet only 56% say that kind of culture is in place in their organisation."More than four-fifths of those surveyed said they were looking to change the make-up of their leadership teams to "disrupt the status quo".

Mergers and acquisitions and AI: CEOs make the business case

Many CEOs said a proactive mergers and acquisition policy represented the best opportunity to upgrade digital capabilities with pace, with 84% admitting to a moderate or high M&A appetite for the next three years.By a majority of two-to-one, the chief executives said they favoured acquiring new technology above developing their workforces to improve their organisation's resilience."Artificial intelligence is on the minds of CEOs, yet only 16% have implemented AI and automation programmes," said the report. "A further 31% are still at the pilot stage, while 53% admit to undertaking a limited AI implementation. Yet 65% of CEOs believe the inclusion of AI and automation will create more jobs than it eliminates."Mr Thomas added: "Altogether, this year's survey is telling us that we've entered a new era of leadership. Agility comes from balancing a CEO's instinct with having confidence in what the data is telling you."Strategic decisions require data that has bias removed. It's no longer enough to seek 'big' data - instead, CEOs must use technology to uncover quality data. Only through this will they create the organisational resilience to drive growth."* CEOs in the survey came from Australia, China, France, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, Spain, the UK and US.Access the KPMG International Global CEO Outlook survey

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