Industrial manufacturing trends 2020: Succeeding in uncertainty through agility and innovation

Key findings for the industrial manufacturing sector from the 23rd Annual Global CEO Survey

Economic uncertainty, technological advancements and talent trends shape the sector

COVID-19 has created an imperative for industrial manufacturers: focus on agility to manage pervasive uncertainty, and resize the enterprise to meet realistic levels of future demand.

The focus for industrial manufacturing companies — perhaps now more than ever — should be on building a culture of agility, which will enable them to pivot and adapt to the constantly changing conditions on the ground. This can be achieved by strengthening technological capabilities across functions, reorganising global supply chains and building a workforce with the relevant skill sets.

Chart about how IM leaders look to operational efficiencies to drive revenue growth

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What a difference two years can make. In 2018, PwC’s Annual Global CEO Survey revealed a record level of optimism regarding worldwide economic growth. This year, as CEOs look ahead to 2020, we see a record level of pessimism. For the first time, more than half of the CEOs we surveyed believe the rate of global GDP growth will decline. This caution has translated into CEOs’ low confidence in their own organisation’s outlook. Only 27% of CEOs are ‘very confident’ in their prospects for revenue growth in 2020, a low level not seen since 2009.

What is clouding the view from the top? In a word, uncertainty. Conducted in September and October of 2019 (before the global outbreak of COVID-19), PwC’s 23rd Annual Global CEO Survey, which involved 1,581 chief executives in 83 territories, explores the sources and manifestations of uncertainty and how CEOs are taking action to address it.

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23rd Annual CEO Survey report cover