Tech now inseparable from business reputation-survey

A new survey of global CEOs tells us that technology is now inseparable from business’ reputation, skills and recruitment, competition and growth.

In PwC’s 20th annual survey of CEOs worldwide, almost a quarter believe technology will completely reshape competition in their industry over the next five years (23 per cent).

In an increasingly digital-driven world, technology has created a new dynamic between business and customers bringing huge benefits for both. However on the flip side 69 per cent of CEOs say it is harder to gain and keep people’s trust in this environment and 87 per cent believe risks from use of social media could have a negative impact on the level of trust in their industry. 91 per cent of CEOs also agree data privacy and ethics issues could impact people’s trust in their organisations in the next five years.

Twenty years ago, trust wasn’t high on the business radar for CEOs. 15 years ago only 12 per cent of CEOs thought public trust in companies had greatly declined. This year, 58 per cent worry that a lack of trust in business will harm their company’s growth, up from 37 per cent in 2013.

After several high-profile technology and security issues for big companies, CEOs unsurprisingly identify cyber security, data privacy breaches and IT disruptions as the top three technology threats to stakeholder trust.

“CEOs expect it to become harder to sustain trust in the digital era. But competitive advantage will go to those with the greatest capacity to turn technology into their strength when coupled with the ability to connect with their stakeholders in an on-going relationship grounded in trust,” said Bob Moritz Global Chairman of PwC.

Professional services giant PwC polled 1,379 CEOs in all industries in 79 countries between September and December 2016.

While CEOs around the world feel they have plenty to worry about in the year ahead, their confidence in their own growth prospects and their outlook for the global economy are back on the rise; 38 per cent (2016: 35 per cent) are very confident about their company’s growth prospects in the next 12 months while 29 per cent (2016:27 per cent) believe global economic growth will pick up in 2017.

CEO’s confidence in their own one year revenue growth is on the rise in nearly every major country across the world… with India (71 per cent), Brazil, where confidence levels have more than doubled (57 per cent), Australia (43 per cent) and the UK (41 per cent) topping the table. However the survey also discovered that in the insurance sector, only 41 per cent of the top executives are expecting to boost their headcount in 2017.

The figure is down from 49% in 2016, 50 per cent in 2015 and 59 per cent in 2014. The downward trend continues despite a brighter growth outlook among CEOs of all industries.

“Despite a tumultuous 2016, CEO confidence is moving back up – albeit slowly and still a long way from the levels we saw back in 2007,” said PwC global chairman Bob Moritz.

“But there are signs of optimism right across the globe, including in the UK and US, where despite predictions of a Trump slump and a Brexit exit, CEOs confidence in their company’s growth are up from 2016,” he added.