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Delivering Digital

CEOs’ Big Concerns: Talent and Technology

CEOs' top internal concerns for 2019: finding talent and managing through disruptive technology

During a discussion at a technology conference this past fall, CEOs and business leaders told me that their biggest concern isn’t terrorism or geopolitical risks — it is being technologically disrupted.

The geopolitical climate has changed a bit since then, as recession and trade war fears escalated, and, perhaps, so did CEO concerns. But not by much. According to a global survey released today by The Conference Board, CEOs say their biggest internal concern is finding the right talent for their businesses, followed by creating new business models due to disruptive technology.

When it comes to concerns that are external to their organization’s execution, CEOs rank a recession as No. 1 for 2019, compared with a year ago when they ranked recession fears way down the list at 19. Globally, threats to global trade came in as their second biggest external concern.

Europe’s CEOs rank global political instability as their No. 1 external concern. Globally, it ranks third. Interestingly, CEOs in the U.S. rank cybersecurity as their top external concern for 2019, while CEOs in China rank it in the 10th slot.

Longer term, the survey found:

CEOs seem confident about their organizations being able to thrive in 2025:

  • Globally, CEOs are most confident that they have the right culture in place to succeed in 2025.
  • South America’s CEOs have the highest confidence level in their culture of any region globally.
  • Compared with peers globally, CEOs in China have the highest overall confidence. They’re most confident of any country or region regarding leaders and talent.

CEOs recognize the customer experience is starting to trump the actual product: 

  • Worldwide, CEOs agree they need to address the shifting customer landscape. The customer of the future will place more value on the experience of using a product or service rather than the actual product or service.
  • Globally, two-thirds of CEOs say they will need to emphasize servitization, providing services and solutions that supplement traditional product offerings.

The survey, “C-Suite Challenge 2019,” is conducted each year by The Conference Board and is based on a survey of over 800 CEOs and over 600 other C-suite executives, primarily from the United States, Asia, and Europe. Participants weigh in on the top business challenges facing their organizations in both the year ahead and into the future, as well as their strategies for meeting those challenges.

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