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Lifting the veil on the fears and focuses of the CEO

By Catherine Knowles, Thu 23 Apr 2015
FYI, this story is more than a year old

In 2015 and 2016 business growth remains a top priority for CEOs, and technology is seen as a primary tool to achieve this growth, Gartner says.

In fact, most CEOs expect positive business conditions and accelerating technology innovation in 2015, according to a recent survey by Gartner.

The 2015 Gartner CEO and senior business executive survey of 400 senior business leaders in user organisations worldwide was conducted in the last quarter of 2014, asking questions about 2015 and 2016.

Most responding organisations were those with annual revenue of $1 billion or more.

The survey results indicate business conditions are good while not outstanding, and stability is good enough to enable strategic investments. 

"Each year we ask CEOs to state their top five business priorities and this year growth was once again the top priority," says Mark Raskino, Gartner vice president.

"However, explicit mentions of growth were down from last year. We attribute this decline not to less interest in growth, but rather to increasing interest in the mechanism that will create it,” he says.

"The second-most-important category of business priority for 2015 and 2016 is technology related.

“This is the highest position we have ever seen for technology in this survey and it's our firm belief that CEOs are more focused on this area than at any time since 1999," says Raskino.

"When we examine the subtext of the responses, the purpose of CEOs' interest in technology becomes immediately obvious.

“Over half of the responses relate to revenue- and growth-related technology issues such as multichannel, e-commerce and m-commerce," he says.

Customer-facing and analytics capabilities remain in the foreground for most of the survey respondents.

When it comes to top technology investments over the next five years, 37% of respondents ranked customer engagement management (CEM) as the leading technology-enabled business capability, followed by digital marketing at 32% and business analytics at 28%. 

Cloud-based business also now has high recognition, as CEOs come to realise that the cloud is where new disruptive and controlling industry platforms get created, says Gartner.

However, the standout finding from this year's survey was the significant rise of the Internet of Things (IoT), a term that barely garnered any recognition in previous years, according to the analysts.

With digital starting to fundamentally change the nature of industries, CEOs' security and risk concerns are rising, says Gartner.

In fact, 77% of survey respondents agreed with the statement that 'the digital world is creating new types and levels of risk for our business', and 65% felt that 'investment in risk management practices is not keeping up with new and higher levels of risk'. 

Raskino says, "Although this was a partly prompted finding, we also saw strong evidence of this rising concern elsewhere in the responses.

"CEOs are right to be concerned. As products and services become digital they add far greater utility for the customer but also far greater power for those dark forces who might usurp digital control.

“CEOs and CIOs should collaborate to jolt the executive team out of cyber-risk complacency." 

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