For all the talk about the Metaverse and how it will change just about everything, CEO and Senior Executive level managers don’t see it being a factor yet. But artificial intelligence, that’s got their attention. According to Gartner, for the first time CEOs have placed environmental sustainability in their top ten list of business priorities and AI, for the third year in a row, at the top of their technologies to watch.
The annual Gartner 2022 CEO and Senior Business Executive Survey was conducted between July 2021 through December 2021 among over 400 CEOs and other senior business executives in North America, EMEA (Europe, Africa, and the Middle East) and Asia/Pacific countries and across different industries, revenue, and company sizes.
While technology-related issues dominate the concerns and priorities of CEOs, workforce issues, like talent retention and DEI (diversity, equity, and inclusion), are right behind. At the lower end of the scale are financial issues such as profitability and cash flow. The Metaverse? About 63% of surveyed CEOs feel it is not applicable or unlikely to be a key technology for their business.
The Gartner survey revealed significant shifts in CEO thinking regarding people, purpose, prices, and productivity in 2022. Gartner found the COVID-19 pandemic gradually brought several deep societal trends to the surface, such as a desire to change the way we work and the fragility of long-distance global supply chains.
More recently, the Russian invasion of Ukraine is amplifying macroeconomic factors that CEOs must now deal with, such as inflation. Simultaneously, however, CEOs’ digital business ambition continues to rise, unaffected by the pandemic and related crises.
AI is reported as the most impactful new technology among CEOs for the third year in a row while CEOs see the metaverse as not particularly interesting from a business perspective. Neither digitalization nor e-commerce, in second and fourth place respectively, is very new on a relative basis but these are technologies that many business leaders still perceive as novel and disruptive in their situations.
For the first time in the history of this survey, CEOs placed environmental sustainability in their top 10 strategic business priorities, coming in at 8th place – a significant jump from 14th place in 2019 and 20th in 2015. Seventy-four percent of CEOs agreed that increasing ESG (environmental, social and governance) efforts attracts investors toward their companies.
Of the 80% of CEOs who intend to invest in new or improved products this year and next, environmental sustainability was cited as the third largest driver, just behind functional performance and general quality. Sustainability also appears as a competitive differentiator for CEOs in 2022-2023 – in fact, it is on the same level as brand trust among respondents.
Sixty-two percent of CEOs see general price inflation as a persistent or long-term issue. Their top response to inflation is to raise prices (51% of respondents), rather than responding with increasing productivity and efficiency (22% of respondents). In fact, productivity and efficiency are not even in the top 10 business priorities for CEOs this year.
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