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PWC’s 20th CEO Report

As we start getting into the swing of things and hope that 2017 is going to be a good year, the realities of the new year have come knocking on our doors with an almighty bang.  How much faster and more unexpected can events be?  What incredulous medical procedures are machines going to be doing this year and more importantly, how much more confused can we all be?

With world leaders congregating at Davos, the inauguration of Donald Trump as the new American president and ongoing global and local dilemmas, I think it’s safe to say that 2017 is going to be interesting.

The recently relased PWC 20th CEO report  builds into our understanding of the uncertainty, and the challenges and complexities, and talent pops it’s head up, yet again.

In this report, CEOs continue to focus on economic health, growth aspects and strategy that continue to effect the day-to-day developments of business. Demographic shifts, rapid urbanisation, realignment of global and business activity and a scarcity of resources are amongst the mega trends impacting on the world.  These are some of the dramatic shifts that have impacted todays CEO at a rapid rate.

Interdependent connectivity is another dramatic change and we now see ourselves living in a world where how we lead needs to be reassed by by as much as what we lead. People are demanding increased transparency and this demands a new way of communicating in the highest order.  There also needs to also be a higher level of accountability, an elevated approach to leadership and more focus on the bottom line:  trust, purpose and different interactions, are the key elements that are going to bring us closer together.

The report is broken up in to four sections:

  • Competing in an age of divergance – CEOs are concerned about uncertain economic growth, over-regulation and skills shortages. Yet CEOs are surprisingly optimistic about growth: 38% are very confident in their company’s 12-month revenue growth prospects.
  • Managing man and machine – Many individuals worry that globalisation and technology will eliminate their jobs. In reality, CEOs now recognise the need for talent – 52% plan to increase headcount, but can’t find people with the right skills. And 77% of CEOs are concerned that a shortage of key skills could impair their company’s growth. CEOs know they can’t innovate using technology alone.
  • Gaining from connectivity without loosing trust – CEOs are playing close attention to how human connection is affected by technology. And as our interactions become ever more automated, data-driven and virtual, the human factor is receding. Fully 69% of CEOs are convinced that it’s harder to gain and retain people’s trust in an increasingly digitalised and connected world.
  • Making globalisation work for all – While nearly two thirds of CEOs agree that globalisation has benefited connectivity, trade and capital mobility, 44% say it has not helped at all in closing the gap between rich and poor. This year, the world has been forced to consider how globalisation can work for all. Here businesses have a significant role to play.

This begs the question – when are we going to sit up and work this craziness out together?  I believe its fair to say that none of us have the answers, but I do believe a more collabortive approach to working it all out is necessary.  I’m worried about the realities we are seeing and even more worried about the pace at which global and local dynamics develop and the radical developing consequences thereof.

So as PWC’s global chairman Bob Moritz puts it: “it is time to raise and communicate the role of business and society and focus on the the positive impact it can have.” I believe we can rally together and start a conversation with words more centered and powered around making our futures great – I’m dead keen for this conversation to begin, as are you, I’m sure.
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