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Inflation, war, civil unrest, devastating storms, virtual worlds, board expertise, artificial intelligence – has the CEO agenda ever been more far-flung and complex to manage than it is today? Decades-long trends that made for a predictable world are weakening and new ones are emerging. These new trends could be destabilizing – undermining the ideas and assumptions on which your business model rests. However, they can also be an opportunity that opens new ways to grow. Sitting still is not an option, and answering foundational questions can help illuminate your path forward: Are we differentiated and fit for growth? Is our technology holding us back? Do we have the right portfolio of businesses?
Your legacy rests on your ability to lead the reinvention of your organization to capitalize on change and deliver returns to stakeholders. To be effective change agents, CEOs rely on an important, intangible asset: trust. Earning trust for yourself and your company helps instill confidence that bold, fundamental change – whether reorganization plans, business model changes, climate reporting or generative AI – will set a strong foundation for growth. Accomplishing everything you envision calls for a new equation for how business gets done.
More than half of the CEOs in our 2023 Emerging Technology Survey expect emerging technologies (such as GenAI) to drive new revenue streams this year. They’re also using EmTech to expand into new markets. To achieve these and other benefits, our survey identified four practices that correlate with emerging tech success.
US CEOs taking part in PwC’s 27th Annual Global CEO Survey say this is the year when generative AI shows tangible results. They say it will boost employee efficiency, make their products better and boost profits. They also say competitive intensity is poised to increase, making it more difficult for a CEO to take a wait-and-see approach.
Your company can never be too productive or too profitable. Fine-tuning the business to deliver stronger growth is harder amid today’s high interest rates, “sticky” inflation and geopolitical fractures. Cutting costs may work in the short-term, but possibly at the cost of impairing your company’s potential. A better path to consider is flipping the cost-cutting script – guide the CFO and the executive team to judge the importance of an expense by its value to the business strategy, not by its cost. And level set expectations that technology projects deliver pre-specified financial outcomes. Those are trusted, productivity-boosting approaches to help build shareholder value in today’s unsettled times.
Having a well-oiled, profit-making machine is good for today, but a poor strategic plan for delivering long-term value. Your choice is stark: either change the company to enable survival or risk having change forced upon it. Exponential strategic thinking grounded in data-driven analysis can help you stay ahead of business model disruption stemming from innovation, regulations or new competitors. Working with the board to alter the business through divestitures, mergers, spin outs or enterprise-wide transformation may seem radical but the leaders who regularly scrutinize their portfolio of businesses may have a better chance of coming out on top.
Increasing productivity? Going big on the future? Technology is at the core of your business model reinvention. But for all of the leaps forward in computing, many companies struggle to realize ROI from technology. The ones who succeed at unlocking digital value know that it’s how they employ technology that makes the difference. They are outcomes obsessed and view breakthroughs, such as generative AI, as a tool that can deliver specific financial targets. Tech risks are ever-present, of course. That’s why CEOs work with CIOs to incorporate trust by design – building in risk management, audit and controls and security from the beginning.
You and the board have very different responsibilities, but you have the same goal: securing the future of the company. To accomplish that, your relationship with the board is of paramount importance. Yet there are competing relationships that need your attention as these stakeholders can wield power over your vision. Developing deep and trusted relationships with employees, regulators, NGOs, community groups and others helps align them to, and potentially even accelerate, your strategy. The complex calculus that goes into properly balancing those relationships is a must-have skill for current and up-and-coming CEOs.
The C-suite’s focus on ESG regulatory compliance is understandable amid the dizzying pace of change at home and abroad. However, you can’t lose sight of potential competitive advantages that arise during tumultuous change. Being at the forefront of emerging issues can open new growth avenues and burnish your company’s reputation for societal leadership. The first step is to make sure that the data underpinning your pledges and commitments is trustworthy and demonstrates that you’re working diligently to meet regulators’ expectations for a cleaner world and stakeholders’ demand for a more resilient business.