CEOs expressed a surge in confidence in this year’s KPMG U.S. CEO Outlook study. They show high confidence levels in economic growth over the next three years, and far greater confidence for their respective companies and the United States compared with last year.
This confidence seems to be at odds with some of the study’s other findings: Most CEOs do not seem to expect much in the way of policy reform, and they are still feeling the accelerating force of disruptive technologies and new competitors. What has changed is how CEOs of large organizations are addressing these challenges.
CEOs are building strategies around managing the value chain in an environment of constant disruption. They are just beginning to realize how artificial intelligence, machine learning and cognitive capabilities could bring a surge in productivity as well as help to create new products and new demand that would not be possible without these capabilities.
Many CEOs are looking at an internal reboot. There is a lot of building behind the scenes and a steep learning curve — not only for the C-suite but across the enterprise. To become a digitally integrated, transparent and cognitive enterprise means rethinking many processes. It means automating many tasks — not only in the front-end consumer interface or at the back end with finance and supply chain but throughout the organization. That will bring radical changes to the way people work in many functions. Workforce training is a top priority in this environment.
Building trust has become a recurrent priority: trust with employees, with customers and with other stakeholders. In today’s environment, there is nowhere to hide.
CEOs are understanding the perils of short-term thinking in the long-term technological, operational and strategic shift now under way and expect many of the benefits of current investment to pay off in ways they can’t even predict today.
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