With the Fourth Industrial Revolution on our doorstep, machine learning and AI permeating every aspect of technology, and businesses always striving for some sort of disruption, CEOs are being met with a myriad challenges that need addressing.

The most important, however, remains growth. This according to research firm Gartner’s latest CEO survey, which specifically looked at the challenges of 473 CEOs and business executives during the fourth quarter of 2018.

“After a significant fall last year, mentions of growth increased this year to 53%, up from 40% in 2018,” noted Mark Raskino, VP and analyst at Gartner.

This suggests that CEOs have switched their focus back to tactical performance as clouds gather on the horizon,” he adds.

Image: Gartner

So we now know that growth is something at the top of mind for more than half of the CEOs in Gartner’s survey, but the big question is how to tackle said challenge.

In that regard the research firm found that most companies are looking at new geographical locations in order to grow.

In particular responses mentioned other cities, states, countries and regions, as well as new markets as a means of improving a company’s geographic reach. Those new markets can also be industry-related or virtual, Gartner explains.

It is natural to use location hunting for growth when traditional and home markets are saturated or fading. However, this year the international part of such reach is complicated and compounded by a shift in the geopolitical landscape,” says Raskino.

“Twenty-three per cent of CEOs see significant impacts to their own businesses arising from recent developments in tariffs, quotas and other forms of trade controls. Another 58% of CEOs have general concerns about this issue, suggesting that more CEOs anticipate it might impact their businesses in future,” adds the VP. 

One of the other ways that CEOs are aiming to address drops in growth is diversification.

This approach therefore places a larger emphasis on businesses to embrace digital, and consequently come up with new products or channels that can garner new revenue for the company.

So much so that 82 percent of Gartner’s respondents stated that they had a management initiative or transformation programme underway to make their companies more digital, which is up from 62 percent in 2018.

Interestingly though CEOs are not looking to perform major cost cuts in Gartner’s view, despite it becoming a more noticeable challenge with 12 percent of respondents.

“We did not see CEOs intending to significantly cut costs in various business areas. They are aware of the rising economic challenges and proceeding with more caution, but they are not preparing for recession,” Raskino concludes.

[Image – CC 0 Pixabay]