Agility is new currency of business say global CEOs

MANAMA: Two-thirds of global CEOs say that agility is the new currency of business and if they don’t adapt, their business will become irrelevant.

According to the fifth KPMG International Global CEO Outlook, unparalleled environmental, economic and technological changes are stark realities facing top business executives.

Chief executives are looking to grow their businesses by creating the organisational agility to disrupt existing business models and challenge long-held market orthodoxies, says the report.

The outlook shows just over half of surveyed CEOs are confident of their success but also realistic, with 53pc projecting cautious three-year growth of up to 2pc (down from 55pc in 2018).

As with 2018, they are also maintaining a positive three-year growth outlook for the global economy, although this has slightly fallen from 67 to 62pc over the last 12 months.

This confidence is also shown by their commitment to hire, with 36pc of CEOs projecting to add more than six percent to their workforce in the next three years.

Commenting on the report findings, KPMG in Bahrain managing partner Jamal Fakhro said, “the economic and technological changes we have seen emerge, in Bahrain and worldwide, over the past years are no longer short-term. Business leaders need to reprogram their organisations to withstand such economic challenges and find new ways to grow. To be resilient and stay competitive, CEOs need to achieve better alignment across their organisations to meet customer expectations and improve business performance.”

“A successful CEO now needs to be an agile CEO,” said Bill Thomas, Global Chairman, KPMG International.

“Succeeding in a world of volatility and uncertainty requires different leadership skills, particularly in large, multi-national organisations. It’s no longer a question of simply defending your position and using scale to maintain competitive advantage. Today, CEOs need to be comfortable disrupting their business models by forging new strategic partnerships, considering alternate M&A strategies and increasing the skills of their workforces.”

Cyber security to innovation

Cyber continues to be high on the CEO agenda, despite falling from the second highest risk last year to fourth this year.

In 2019, a larger group of CEOs (69pc vs 55pc in 2018) say a robust cyber security strategy is critical to driving trust with key stakeholders and most (71pc) view information security as a key factor in their broader innovation strategy.

Acquiring expertise through M&A

For many CEOs, M&A presents the best opportunity to upgrade digital capabilities with pace.

A proactive M&A strategy is on the agenda for 84pc of CEOs who have a moderate or high M&A appetite for the next three years.

Driving this appetite is the ability of M&A to transform a business model faster than organic growth.

AI experts take note

Artificial intelligence (AI) is on the minds of CEOs, yet only 16pc have implemented AI and automation programmes.

A further 31pc are still at the pilot stage, while 53pc admit to undertaking a limited AI implementation.

Yet 65pc of CEOs believe the inclusion of AI and automation will create more jobs than it eliminates.



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