Communications industry CEOs are looking to expand their businesses. They want to access new technologies and focus on innovation. They are considering expanding with healthcare, financial services, entertainment, media, and technology companies. They’re struggling to hire the right talent.

Expanding the business

More than half of communications industry CEOs say that there are more threats to their company today then there were three years ago. But 67% of communications CEOs also said there are more growth opportunities for their company today then there were three years ago, and most are confident of revenue growth.

Communications industry CEOs are also keenly interested in engaging in joint ventures, strategic alliances or informal collaborations. Why? They want to access new technologies and strengthen innovation. A quarter of our respondents enter into this type of agreement mainly in order to access new geographic markets, a continuing theme for the industry. Around the same number also want to access new industries. But most importantly, 67% of communications CEO respondents want to enter into these types of agreements in order to access new customers (vs. 47% of the entire survey responses).

How are they doing it?  Three-quarters are working with suppliers or considering doing so, and 69% partner with customers. Sixty seven percent of CEOs are engaging or collaborating with firms from other industries and 63% with start-ups – in both cases well above the average across the overall sample.

Industry lines are blurring

The majority of communications industry CEOs (56%) say that in the last three years they have entered a new industry. When asked how likely it is that organisations will compete in sectors other than their own in the next three years, 79% of communications CEOs responded that companies will likely or very likely do just that.

Is the blurring of industry lines going to happen with some of the obvious choices – technology, health, or banking companies? Or, might we see telecommunications enter industries we’ve never even considered? No matter where they end up, many communications industry CEOs are starting to think in exciting new ways about where they can offer value.

We're hiring (if only we could find the right person!)

Forty percent of communications industry CEOs expect to hire this year. Although that is lower than the entire survey (50%), they are clearly focusing on their workforce. Nearly half of communications industry CEOs say they have greatly increased their reliance on contractors, part-time workers, outsourced functions or service agreements. Alongside this, 65% say they are somewhat or very concerned about the availability of people with key skills. Could it be that industry CEOs aren’t hiring as robustly as those in other industries because they can’t locate the talent they seek?

Government effectiveness – or lack thereof

When asked about the adequacy of their country’s digital infrastructure, 46% of communications industry CEOs responded that their infrastructure is greatly ineffective or ineffective. There may be a window of opportunity to drive improvement as 52% of respondents anticipate collaborating with government to improve digital infrastructure (vs. only 19% of all survey respondents).  The same holds true with innovation as 63% of our respondents said their government is greatly ineffective or ineffective in developing an innovation ecosystem. On a positive note, many of our CEOs are working with their local governments to develop innovation ecosystems (42% vs. 26% of the entire survey population).

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