“Eighty percent of CEOs are looking at M&A, joint ventures, or strategic alliances. For those of us who have collaboration as a major discipline, this speaks to an incredibly important role we have to play. Companies’ success will be predicated on these investments [focused] on external ecosystems, on [being] much more transparent, on customer retention, etc. It’s the new imperative. CEOs are putting their investments … with an orientation towards growth … not doing it as heavily with channels and supply chain, but more focused upon the digital transformation channels.”
Nimma Bakshi, CA-AM, is getting to the heart of his Oct. 22 ASAP Netcast Webinar presentation with Jasmin Young, MBA. In their webinar, “Harnessing Digital Innovation as a Means of Growth,” the two PwC executives discuss and analyze the findings from two 2014 PwC surveys—the consulting firm’s 17th annual survey of US CEOs and its 6th annual Digital IQ Survey. Bakshi, past president of ASAP’s Silicon Valley chapter, is managing director with PwC’s US Corporate Advisory Services and is a leader within PwC's Advisory Alliances Group, heading one of PwC’s strategic alliances. Young is PwC’s technology sector director, serving as lead business strategy director for emerging technologies in PwC’s Cloud Center of Excellence.
Young and Bakshi highlighted a rise in CEO confidence as leaders now are increasingly focused on growth—for instance, 52 percent of CEOs anticipate increased hiring.
“We definitely see maneuvering on many fronts to capitalize on waves of change,” Young explained, noting that “the heart of the leadership challenge in 2014 has been earning enough trust to lead through the change.” Part of the change also involves seizing opportunities in both expected and unexpected places. For years, many global companies have sought growth in the emerging country powerhouses—e.g. the so-called “BRIC” economies of Brazil, Russia, India and China. However, Young cited the comment of footwear retailer Foot Locker’s CEO. “Ahh, Europe was tough a couple of years ago—and now we’re trying to see how to build new stores in Europe.”
“Five megatrends emerged when CEOs were asked about what trends are most influential and/or disruptive,” Bakshi said.
- Technology advances
- Demographic shifts
- Shift in global economic power as net new trade routes emerge
- Resource scarcity and climate change
“What’s really notable, it’s the first time in 17 years that technology has advanced to be the most important global trend and the most influential,” Bakshi commented. “IT technology has moved from the back office to the corner office—and by some measure. CEOs are more and more viewing digital, technology advancement, and their business strategies as inseparable.”
So where are CEOs looking to invest specifically?
“Those of you familiar with SMAC, you can see that the mature tech areas are where CEOs will be driving their spend,” Bakshi said. Very specifically, CEOs recognize both an opportunity as well as risk if their organizations don’t act—“a peril in not modifying the front office to interact with customers, with those that are customers of others, and with people who may not realize they can be customers.
“This is the new interaction model—24x7 monitoring, all is on, in terms of being relevant, persistent, available for commerce, and being able to conduct this global reach-out leveraging various forms of hybrid cloud.”
Failure to act—and failure to act quickly enough—opens the door to competitors seizing these customers and prospective customers from your company. But it’s no longer usual competitive suspects, Young explained.
“The economics of the business are evolving, and companies find themselves increasingly threatened not just by established, well-known players but also by upstarts,” she said. “Companies are reporting a lot of disruption, and the answer is to innovate. New products and services offer the main opportunity for growth.”
This context also is focusing CEOs much more on partnering than ever before. “It’s really hard to compete,” Young explained. “This is driving the desire to create more JVs and alliances to move and innovate more rapidly, thereby circumventing the innovator’s dilemma. Companies need to partner to be able to innovate faster.”
To learn more the PwC survey findings and their implications for partnering and alliance management, ASAP Members can view the archived ASAP Netcast Webinar of “Harnessing Digital Innovation as a Means of Growth.”