Actions the best CEO’s are taking in 2023 and beyond…
In 2023, business leaders have been focused on addressing risks whilst finding opportunities in the digital disruption, economic uncertainty and evolution of the geopolitical landscape, while transforming their companies for long term growth.
“Great leaders recognise the true signal within a lot of noise and act accordingly”
Satya Nadella (CEO Microsoft – Hit Refresh 2017).
As we embark on the second half of 2023 and look forward to 2024, the deluge of information, trends and ideas that Australian business leaders now face makes prioritising business initiatives more complex than ever.
Companies are seeking to be both human-led and tech-powered and Australian Business Leaders need to find a new equation for people and technology to ensure there is longevity in businesses growth aspirations. We have already worked through a period of digital disruption, economic shocks and pandemic shutdowns, CEO’s will need to pivot and guide our businesses through more transformation over the next 10 years than we have seen in the past half a century.
As businesses seek to find solutions to these important problems, we explored several Australian Leader surveys to understand the pulse of Australia’s top performing CEOs, evolving priorities and the actions they are taking in response as well as our own anecdotal evidence we have gathered from many meetings and discussions we are having with prominent Australian businesses every day.
70% of Australian Leaders expect the Australian economy to slow in 2023-24
*PWC CEO survey 2023
So much has changed in the last 12 months. We have moved on from the COVID preoccupation and are now concerned with topics such as inflation, the cost of living, high energy prices and the global economy heading towards a recession.
As we cross the halfway mark of 2023 and are looking forward to 2024, traditional concerns such as training and up-skilling of staff, and security (with a technology focus) are priority areas of Business leaders today.
In terms of the economy, the outlook in Australia and globally is one of slowing demand, high interest rates, normalising supply changes and moderating government spending. Coupled with a shortage of skilled talent and cyber security risks, Australian Business Leaders, CEO’s and in some cases CIO’s, are focused on delivering top line revenue growth. Noticeably different to last year when the concerns involved staff working remotely, designing ESG strategies and ensuring diversity in leadership.
In order of priority, here are the top 10 challenges that businesses are focused on addressing in 2023:
- Talent Acquisition and Retention: Addressing the ongoing challenge of acquiring and retaining top talent with expertise in emerging technologies. Developing talent strategies, investing in employee training and development, and creating a supportive work culture. Read full blog here.
- Digital Transformation: Continuation of digital transformation efforts, including the adoption of emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence, machine learning, Internet of Things (IoT), and automation to drive innovation, efficiency, and competitive advantage. Read full blog here.
- Cybersecurity and Data Protection: Enhancing cybersecurity measures to address evolving threats and protect sensitive data. This includes implementing advanced security solutions, conducting regular assessments, and fostering a culture of security awareness.
- Regulatory Compliance and Risk Management: Staying updated on regulatory changes and ensuring compliance with laws related to data protection, privacy, and industry-specific regulations. Implementing robust risk management frameworks to mitigate potential threats and ensure business continuity.
- Agility to meet market opportunities or challenges: Embracing agile methodologies and practices to accelerate software development, improve collaboration between IT teams, and enhance the speed and quality of product delivery.
- Data Analytics and Business Intelligence: Investing in advanced analytics capabilities to gain insights from large datasets, drive data-informed decision-making, and improve operational efficiency. Applying predictive and prescriptive analytics to identify trends and opportunities.
- Cloud Adoption and Optimization: Expanding cloud infrastructure and services to improve scalability, flexibility, and cost-effectiveness. Optimizing cloud environments to maximize performance, data storage, and application delivery.
- Customer Experience Enhancement: Prioritizing customer-centric initiatives to deliver exceptional experiences across multiple channels. This involves leveraging customer data, personalization strategies, and digital tools to understand and meet customer expectations.
- Innovation and R&D Investment: Fostering a culture of innovation and allocating resources for research and development (R&D) initiatives. Encouraging experimentation, exploring new business models, and seeking opportunities for disruptive innovation.
- Sustainability and ESG Initiatives: Prioritizing sustainability goals and Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) initiatives. This includes reducing carbon emissions, adopting renewable energy sources, promoting social responsibility, and enhancing corporate governance.
86% of business leaders are focused on upskilling their workforce
*PWC CEO survey 2023
Finding & Retaining good talent
The challenges in finding and keeping good quality talent is more acute than ever. With unemployment at its lowest in 50 years, we are seeing a mismatch between the skills required by Australian businesses and the skills of the unemployed to do those jobs. In KPMG’s recent survey, where they interviewed over 400 business leaders in Australia what’s on their mind, 77% recorded that Talent acquisition, retention and upskilling to meet a more digitised future – first on the list. With no quick fix insight, 60% of these respondents identified this as the number on issue they would have to address over the medium term (3-5 years).
Related: Building a Talent Oasis: Attracting and Retaining Great Technical Talent>
“With unemployment at an all time low, a remarkable number of CEO’s and CIO’s are having a hard time finding and retaining the talent necessary to undertake everyday IT operations with the required security, quality and efficiency. They are also struggling to get the most out of their existing talent. Whilst they may have staff with specific IT skills, they often lack stars who can solve problems that may span multiple technology domains and engage business leaders on topics such as technology and innovation. It seems the critical issue is to either develop, retain and recruit talent or rely on a quality technology outsource provider that values developing and retaining their talent.” Bradley Kaine, Kaine Mathrick Tech.
Cyber security is also a major concern as businesses begin to understand that cyber risks are real and dangerous. They not only have the ability to stop a company in its tracks, but also hurt the individuals whose data was stolen.
“Keeping customer and business data secure is critical for businesses longevity. Over 90% of customers will avoid doing business with companies they feel do not take their privacy seriously. Most business leaders understand that significant disruption is only one crisis away. Traditional Cyber solutions are not delivering the security adaptability required to defend their business against todays new threats. Cyber criminals are moving away from conventional methods of attacking and towards more exploitative strategies that target employees. Agile and scalable cyber solutions such as Managed Security Services will be the services securing businesses going forward.” Bradley Kaine CEO, Kaine Mathrick Tech comments.
A slowing economy
Many CEO’s in Australia expect both local and global business conditions to be tougher in 2023 and 2024. The outlook at home and globally is one of slowing demand, higher interest rates, normalising supply changes and moderating government spending. Australian leaders are optimistic they will be able to manage the short term impacts from inflation and interest rate rises and are focused on delivering top line revenue growth, through maximising market share of existing markets and increasing footprint in new ones. The more difficult challenge is keeping up with the pace of business transformation.
46% of leaders believe they must focus on digital transformation & optimisation, and extract organisational value from it
*KPMG leaders survey 2023
One in three CEO’s in Australia believe their company wont exist 10 years from now if they continue to the same path.
* PWC CEO survey 2023
So what specific, pragmatic actions are being taken to manage these concerns? It seems that a consistent mix of defensive (protecting against risk) and offensive (taking advantage of new opportunities), and uplevelling their cyber protection create a powerful playbook for the great leaders of 2023.