Having Weathered the Economic Storms, CEOs Make Their Companies Fit for the Future

As our latest 17th Annual Global CEO Survey launched in Davos demonstrates, CEOs have successfully guided their companies through recession and now are taking a 'glass is half full' view on the global economy. Twice as many CEOs as last year believe the global economy will improve in 2014, and nearly 40 percent tell us they are very confident that their own company's revenue will grow over the next 12 months.

To achieve that growth CEOs are taking a truly global view. They see renewed opportunities in the advanced economies of the US, UK and Germany but they also are expanding their view of emerging markets by exploring growth in Indonesia, Mexico, Turkey, Thailand and Vietnam.

Even if the glass is half full, worries continue to loom large on CEOs' horizons. In this year's Survey, 72 percent of CEOs expressed concern that over-regulation would hurt their companies' growth prospects, while 71 percent are worried about fiscal deficits.

But it's long-term issues that might pose the greatest challenge for CEOs as they prepare their companies for a new business world. As they plan ahead CEOs must ponder an important question: how can they best connect with a new generation of employees and consumers who won't necessarily look, think or act like them?

Based on the opinions of CEOs this year we believe organizations must overcome three specific challenges to secure future success. First, they'll need to harness technology to create value in new ways. If you think we live in a wired world today, just wait to see what the future holds. Already we've seen the disruptive effect social media and networking has had on business and society in general. New technologies such as 3D printing will bring even greater transformation. That's why the smartest CEOs have game-changing innovation embedded in their business strategy and they are executing that strategy using technology, not just to develop new products and services but actually to create new business models.

Second, organizations will also have to adapt to demographic shifts in order to develop tomorrow's workforce. Along with perennial issues like rising wages and securing skilled workers, CEOs must also contemplate how to manage the talents of a changing and new type of employee: a digital native who is keen for autonomy and not afraid to challenge employers on business strategy and ethics.

Third, there is the challenge of satisfying consumers who are evolving in different ways in different markets and who are becoming better informed about the products they want to buy as well as increasingly savvy (in terms of technology and business models) in the way they like to make those purchases.

That's just a snapshot of the major themes this year's CEO Survey has identified. Why not dig deeper into the Survey and discover how its insights can help business through 2014 and beyond. The PwC Annual CEO Survey is available for download here.