Survey: What Global CEOs Want from Technology

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We recently peered into the minds of CEOs with operations in Asia Pacific to explore their priorities and pain points as part of this year’s Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit. The over 370 business leaders who responded to PwC’s 2012 APEC CEO Survey are hungry to harness the growth potential of the region. We asked them where technology and innovation are most needed in their organizations to solve problems and seize opportunities.

Following are the top three areas where CEOs say they have a “crucial and immediate need” for technology and innovation and my recommendations for how the CIO can contribute to delivering what CEOs want.

67% of CEOs said technology and innovation can help them find and retain talent

This strong response isn’t surprising considering 56% of CEOs said the “depth of talent pool” is very important to successful innovation and only 9% are “very satisfied” with their mix of talent. Moreover, CEOs are recruiting employees to replace workers as much as to expand their workforce. There are two areas where CIOs can help global CEOs solve the recruitment & retention challenge:

Scout emerging tech talent for their own teams.

After extensive outsourcing, many IT departments simply aren’t equipped with enough of the strategic keystone skills needed to envision, design and manage high-quality business solutions. Nor do they have the staff in place with mastery of the latest technologies such as mobile app development, big data and visualization on top of social, mobility, analytics and cloud computing (SMAC). CIOs should beef up their own recruitment efforts to drive innovation.

Set workplace policies and rollout technologies that boost employee satisfaction.

CIOs play an important role in tamping down rampant employee turnover throughout the enterprise by embracing the consumerization of IT and deploying internal collaboration platforms where employees can effortlessly and consistently exchange information and inspiration. Employees crave technologies and policies that empower them to produce the highest quality work products in the least amount of time, no matter where they are in the world. Cultivating a corporate ecosystem of connectedness creates ties that bind and the perception that employers “get it.”

58% of CEOs said technology and innovation can help them improve relationships with existing and prospective customers

A lot of people think of customer relationship management (CRM) when they hear, “improve relationships with customers.” CRM is important for better serving customers and talking more intelligently to them, but CRM is simply one aspect of what’s necessary to deepen relationships with customers. Providing a consistent customer experience across channels is crucial. The CIO is perfectly positioned to partner with departments that touch the customer including product development, marketing/sales and customer service to demonstrate to the CEO how technology can lock-in customer loyalty and unlock customer data to unleash inventive products and services.

55% of CEOs said technology and innovation can help them gather market intelligence more quickly

CEOs are feeling the pressure to make the push toward continuous innovation. Periodic, disruptive innovation isn’t enough in this competitive market. Customers and investors expect innovation that is always-on.

Combining customer analytics with social media listening tools can greatly increase market visibility and provide companies with rapid insights to inform innovation strategy. Many CIOs are already starting to partner with CMOs to establish social media monitoring programs and we expect to see a quickening of that pace. My colleague, Jeff Auker, gives CIOs a starter guide here.

Our 2012 Digital IQ survey found that 60% of CIOs are reporting to the CEO. The trend of CIOs reporting to CFO is over and signals that CEOs understand the importance of IT as a strategic enabler.

CIO, are you facing these same challenges? Do the issues of APEC CEOs align with your company? Let me know.

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