CEOs Say Get Connected Or Get Left Behind
June 4, 2012 Jenny Thomas
None of us have a crystal ball, but that doesn’t stop us from trying to predict the future. So what’s the best way to plan for what might be coming down the road? If you’re IBM, you start by asking 1,709 friends for their outlook on what lies ahead.
IBM recently conducted face-to-face interviews with just a shade over 1,700 CEOs, general managers, and senior public sector leaders from 64 countries in 18 industries around the globe. Big Blue wanted to know how these individuals are dealing with rapidly converging digital, social, and mobile technologies.
This convergence, aptly coined “connected computing” by IBM, proved to be a hot button for any business because they recognize that having a phone line and a website is no longer enough. The responses, which are revealed in IBM’s 2012 Global CEO study, called Leading Through Connections, offer some insight into the direction the CEOs of today think their businesses are heading in the not-too-distant future.
The survey is centered around three key areas:
CEOs realize their employees are perhaps their greatest assets, and encouraging them to collaborate and learn from each other is key to success. But opening up organizations can result in chaos unless some control remains to focus and track discussions and ideas. To get the best from their workforces, 65 percent of surveyed CEOs cited a need for clear vision of ethics and values. A collaborative environment (63 percent), and stated purpose and mission (58 percent) were also top priorities for CEOs looking to get the most from every employee.
Of course, without customers there is no business, and finding ways to engage customers as individuals is paramount to success, according to 72 percent of the survey takers. But knowing what customers want is only half the battle, however, as exactly 72 percent of the surveyed CEOs also agreed that their companies also have to have the analytical muscle in place to respond with relevance and immediacy.
There were some interesting predictions in the area of customer contact and how CEOs envision building and maintaining relationships with the folks who use their products and services. Of the CEOs surveyed, only 16 percent said social media is their top method of engaging customers, but in the next three to five years, 57 percent of CEOs expected social media to become their number one way of reaching customers. That is an increase of 256 percent.
Those same CEOs also predicted a slight increase in the use of websites as the best way to reach customers, from 47 percent ranking it a top way now to 55 percent ranking it as the best way in the next few years. The CEOs foresee some different changes by 2017 in some of the methods commonly used for customer contact today.
Personal interaction is expected to decrease, with 80 percent of CEOs saying it is a top means of reaching customers now, dropping to 67 percent in the next few years. The same goes for call centers, which are currently used by 40 percent of the surveyed CEOs, falling to 31 percent in the near future.
Sadly, especially for people like those of us who love our job at IT Jungle, of the 39 percent of CEOs who said they are using traditional media as a means of reaching customers, only 15 percent think it will be as important in the next 5 years, which equates to a downward slide of 61 percent. Who said CEOs were always right? (They aren’t.) People said the same thing about print advertising in 2001. Everything takes a long, long time to change.
Finally, while it might be human nature to see everyone who is not on your team as a competitor, 70 percent of CEOs said they would be looking to partner extensively in order to amplify innovation within their organizations.
The survey is nicely summed up in a quote from an unnamed financial market CEO:
“This is now a continuous feedback kind of world, and we need the organizational nimbleness to respond.”
In other words, get connected or get left behind.
You can download IBM’s survey, Leading Through Connections, here.