The agenda at the upcoming Davos meeting will focus on ‘The New Global Context’ and how technological transformation plays a significant role. How do you see this impacting business; is this an issue at the top of the boardroom agenda?
Bob: Absolutely. At the Davos meeting in January, we’ll launch our 18th Annual Global CEO Survey – and technology is once again an area we’re focusing on. Last year’s survey told us that 81% of CEOs rank technology as the #1 transformative trend. Almost 50% of CEOs are concerned that the speed of technological change threatens their own growth prospects, and 90% of CEOs globally are changing their technology investments. I have the privilege of speaking with the leaders and stakeholders of many companies throughout the year and this is a topic that’s very much on their minds. It’ll be interesting to see what this year’s survey tells us.
There’s no doubt that digitisation via the internet has created extraordinary value. Social media is enabling many of the world’s top brands to deepen their relationships with customers. And by 2020, there’ll be seven times more connected devices than people. The leaders I speak with understand that no f matter what industry they’re in, their organisations are now digital enterprises. And our recent Digital IQ Survey shows that businesses that have a strong understanding of technology’s value, and successfully weave technology into their organisational fabric, were 2.2 times more likely to be top-performers in revenue growth, profitability and innovation. There are great opportunities here, but also important questions to consider as leaders strike the right balance between technology and human judgement so that their organisations are agile, productive and delivering great quality. These are not new questions, but the impact of technology is rapidly increasing and clearly on the C-suite agenda. I'm sure this theme will be part of the conversation as we meet at Davos.
How is PwC staying ahead of technological transformation?
Bob: The rapid pace of innovation in technology has fundamentally changed how and where work gets done, and is driving organisations to transform their businesses for the future. We advise our audit clients, audit committees and boards of directors, and investors on technology related-risks and how to address these in the audit. And our audit teams are using technology and data auditing techniques to help our clients communicate with their stakeholders through accurate and transparent financial reporting. For our non-audit clients, we're building out our capabilities so we can help them re-imagine the way they conduct business in today’s digitally interconnected world - from how they interact with customers, to how they manage their supply chain.
We’re also looking at how we transform our own organisation to be agile in a fast-changing world, to work efficiently and globally, while maintaining our commitment to high quality services. To do this, we’re investing in our own technology platform, and embedding technology into how we work. And we’re forming alliances with leading technology companies so that we can offer our joint knowledge and capabilities to help companies collaborate more effectively, better use technology and information, and adapt to the disruptive forces shaping the world.
To come up with the right solutions, however, requires more than technology. We also need highly-skilled people who bring objectivity, principle, judgement and commitment to the work they do each day. As we help our clients tackle these big issues, we’re also looking at the bigger picture. The firms in our diverse, global organisation share a common commitment to building trust in society and solving important problems. Both are important to who we are and how we work.
What do you enjoy / value most from your time at Davos?
Bob: What I value about Davos is setting aside the time to connect, listen and learn. Business leaders, academics, political leaders, and non-governmental organisations -- who might normally be separated by geography, or who might find it hard to connect due to demanding schedules -- are together and sharing ideas in larger sessions and hallway conversations. At Davos, I’m immersed in meeting new thinkers and leaders, reconnecting with people I've met or worked with before (some of whom I only see at Davos), and getting the perspective of people who are shaping the future. I value the opportunity to listen and learn, and I'm proud to represent PwC as part of these important conversations.