CEOs expect business to be digitalised beyond recognition

CEOs expect their businesses to be changed by digital to that extent that the industry will be barely recognizable in five years' time. That's why more and more CEOs are deciding to take the digital transformation efforts into their own hands.

Those are the results of a new survey by market analysts Gartner. It surveyed 400 senior business executives from companies with annual revenue of more than $1 billion, about their upcoming business initiatives, and the results show that growth (54 per cent), customers (31 per cent) and workforce (27 per cent) remain their biggest priorities.

"The big rise of explicit mentions of the word "customer" was very noticeable in the results of this year's survey," said Mark Raskino, vice president and Gartner Fellow. "CEOs seem to be concerned about improving customer service, relationship and satisfaction levels. At the same time, CEOs have become much more concerned about employee’s issues than a couple of years ago. The emphasis is as much on benefits, retention and training of mainstream staff. It is not constrained only to senior grade 'talent' issues."

Digital business has become so important that CEOs are leading the transformation themselves, the report says. It lists self-driving cars, blockchain in e-banking and e-cigarettes as good examples of these transformations. However, the digitalisation is a positive force, not a destructive one, with 84 per cent expecting the transformation to bring higher profit margins.

“One explanation for CEOs' optimistic attitude toward digital change may be because they can see how it helps with the product innovations that matter to customers,” said Mr Raskino. “We asked CEOs what proportion of the customer perceived value of products and services they think is digital. Thinking about the product features that customers are choosing and believe they are buying, CEOs said the value percentage is already 30 per cent on average and will rise to 46 per cent by 2019.”

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