Optimism around manufacturing growth and an eye on the need for increased talent and technology
“The future in industrial manufacturing revolves around the way companies embrace strategic change; how they leverage constantly developing digital technology and data analysis. As industrial manufacturers continue to expand their use of intelligent systems and platforms, such as the cloud, that securely gather and enable data analysis, they will optimize business processes, reduce supply chain and manufacturing costs and, ultimately, drive improved profitability.”
Global Industrial Manufacturing Leader
In these economically and politically challenging times, Industrial Manufacturing (IM) CEOs maintain healthy, relative optimism about their own company’s growth during the next year. 41% of IM CEOs said they were very confident in PwC’s 20th CEO Survey, carried out between 26 September and 5 December, 2016. Looking longer term over the upcoming three-year horizon, all CEOs, including IM, are bullish on their companies—with a global average of 51% very confident. In historical context, this compares to only 33% in our first 1997 survey.
IM CEOs see innovation as the key to a future that is driven by talent, skill, relationships and intelligent deals. In short, the human factor is working in consort with technology to create opportunities, not remove jobs. IM CEOs agree with the global average in prioritizing innovation (29%) and human capital (18%) as the two areas they most want to strengthen in order to capitalize on new opportunities.
In terms of seizing opportunity, IM puts equal weight (8%) on digital and technology capabilities, customer experience and M&A. But the human factor presents a challenge: CEOs deem recruiting most difficult when it comes to attracting people talented in creativity and innovation or leadership (both 81%), emotional intelligence (70%), problem solving (69%), and adaptability (68%).
Trust has been climbing steadily up the CEO agenda. And as our interactions become ever more automated, data driven and virtual, the human factor is receding. In this environment, IM CEOs are aware of the risks and relatively confident in their systems and safeguards against damage to stakeholder trust levels. Paralleling the global group of CEOs, IM executives (93%) say strong corporate purpose has gained in importance, as has the need to account for wider stakeholder expectations (80%) and difficulty in gaining and keeping trust (69%).
CEOs recognize the challenge as the world’s political and social compass begins to point more toward national interests rather than collective, global ones. In IM, 55% of CEOs agree or agree strongly that it is becoming harder to balance competing in an open, global marketplace with trends toward more closed national policies. As for the benefits of globalization, 65% say it enabled universal connectivity, 64% that it improved the ease of moving capital, people, goods and information, and 39% that it created a skilled and educated workforce. Yet at the same time, globalization has not helped to close the gap between rich and poor (only 13% agreeing) or bolster fairness and integrity of global tax systems (21%).