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Four key messages for CEOs

Mar 08, 2019

According to PwC’s 22nd Annual Global CEO Survey, the majority of Irish CEOs are cautiously optimistic about the future, but more recognise investment is needed in emerging technologies and key skills. Feargal O’Rourke breaks down the results into four key messages that are imperative for Irish CEOs to take on.

At the time the PwC Annual Global CEO Survey was conducted, over half of Irish business leaders were positive about the future prospects for the economy and the future performance for their organisation’s revenue growth. However, possibly reflecting external uncertainties, a quarter felt unfavourable about the prospects for the Irish economy, up from 17 % in 2017. Key challenges include the unavailability of key talent, at an all-time high, cyber threats and geopolitical uncertainties.

As external uncertainties persist, it is interesting to see how Irish CEOs, like their global counterparts, are turning their attention to the areas within their own control to drive growth. In light of external disruptors, such as Brexit, it is critical that CEOs take charge of their own destiny in as much as they can.

However, in order to be confident that their organisation is fit for the future, they must first solve the key skills challenge. People are always the key to a successful organisation and that’s something I’ve found to be true throughout my own professional career.

From our survey, we have discovered four key messages for CEOs.

Ensure your organisation is fit for growth

CEOs’ focus is turning inward, to things they can control in their businesses. 54% said their organisation’s growth will be driven by operational efficiencies. They are planning to invest in organic activities within their organisations they believe will propel them to success. That means they must ensure their organisations’ combination of processes, tools, workforce and culture are fit to cultivate, deliver and sustain growth.

Close the information gap

As CEOs look inside their businesses for growth opportunities, they are contending with gaps in their organisation’s data analytics capabilities. Only 19% of Irish CEOs said the information they receive is adequate. They need to ensure they are extracting the maximum value out of their data to allow them to leverage new technologies in sustainable ways.

Prepare for the artificial intelligence revolution

To help unlock internal growth potential in their organisations, CEOs are paying close attention to emerging digital technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI). 64% of Irish CEOs believe AI will significantly change the way they do business, so they need to understand how AI can be applied in their businesses, and ensure their businesses have the right talent, data and technology to exploit the opportunities that AI presents.

Invest in key skills

The challenge of finding staff with the right skills is at an all-time high. The majority of Irish CEOs see this as the biggest threat to potential business growth and 75% of them said that hiring people has become more difficult. Irish businesses should look inwards and invest in their workforce to make them fit for the future, providing them with the right training and career development support.

Feargal O’Rourke is the Managing Partner of PwC Ireland.