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It’s now or never for CEOs

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The next three years will be a time of unprecedented change and significance for businesses around the world, but growth will be moderate. Global CEOs of the largest corporations are prepared to handle this period with realistic expectations and a healthy dose of confidence.

These are among the findings of KPMG’s annual Global CEO Outlook, which this year included a South African viewpoint.

Whether the tide rises or falls in the economy, CEOs are increasingly optimistic that they can transform their organisation for what the future holds. That confidence is apparent in their hiring plans and projected top-line growth over the three year horizon.

However, CEOs in South Africa shared their level of concern around a variety of challenges. For example, 64% of the CEOs said that they are concerned about the loyalty of their customers while 62% see increased use of data and analytics as a way to drive process costs and efficiencies.

KPMG CEO in Southern Africa, Trevor Hoole, says: “CEOs operating in South Africa are well aware of their many challenges and they are reasonably bullish about the future of the country. Although they are confident that their industry and companies will grow over the next year, their growth expectations are modest.

“That said, they are grappling with a multitude of issues simultaneously. Globally many CEOs feel that they are not disrupting their industry’s business models enough.”

Top concerns for CEOs are * More than 70% agree that regulatory changes will inhibit their growth;

* 58% of CEOs are concerned about whether their organisation is staying on top of what’s next in services/products;

* Almost 50% say that their organisation will battle to increase its market share; and

* 70% of CEOs are concerned about the impact of global economic forces on their business.

The CEO Outlook further revealed how CEOs’ view of growth potential in the world has shifted since the 2015 survey. Brazil, India and China are seen by these top executives in South Africa as the most attractive foreign markets. While still among the leading markets, the US and China decreased since last year. Western Europe has also seen a significant decline in its attractiveness as a foreign market.

The CEO Outlook also confirmed that 60% of CEOs are concerned about how Millennials and their differing wants and needs will change their business.

“The growing Millennial generation needs to be empowered and mentored to assume leadership positions because they have the potential to lead in a world of rapidly expanding technology and social change. Corporate South Africa needs leaders who are capable of leading a global, diverse and virtual workforce,” says Hoole.