IBM'S bi-annual C-Suite study is out. Based on face-to-face conversations with more than 1,700 chief executive officers in 64 countries, IBM's study claims that CEO's are embracing connectedness, empowering employees through values, engaging customers as individuals, amplifying innovation with partnerships, and leading in the connected era by using technology to connect on a more personal level, to erase the constraints of time and distance, and to explore, engage, and expand personal and professional connectedness: R. Colin Johnson
Here is what IBM's C-Suite study says in its executive summary (click :"Further Reading" to download the entire study: For some time now, businesses have been refining and optimizing their networks of suppliers and partners. They’re streamlining supply chains, creating massive back-office efficiencies and perfecting everything from just-in-time inventory to predictive merchandising. But something just as meaningful has been happening in the marketplace — the sudden convergence of the digital, social and mobile spheres — connecting customers, employees and partners in new ways to organizations and to each other. These changes put pressure on the front office to digitize and adapt but also create opportunities for the organization to innovate and lead.
Leaders are recognizing that our new connected era is fundamentally changing how people engage. This shift is one reason why, for the first time since this CEO Study series began in 2004, technology now tops the list of external forces impacting organizations. Above any other external factor — even the economy — CEOs expect technology to drive the most change in their organizations over the next three to five years.
CEOs have a new strategy in the unending war for talent. They are creating more open and collaborative cultures — encouraging employees to connect, learn from each other and thrive in a world of rapid change. Collaboration is the number-one trait CEOs are seeking in their employees, with 75 percent of CEOs calling it critical.
The emphasis on openness and collaboration is even higher among outperforming organizations — and they have the change-management capabilities to make it happen.2 As CEOs open up their organizations, they are not inviting chaos. The need for control remains, but it is evolving into a new form — one better suited to the complexity and pace of business today.
To engage customers as individuals, CEOs are building analytical muscle to respond with relevance and immediacy. As a group, CEOs are investing in customer insights more than any other functional area — far above operations, competitive intelligence, financial analysis and even risk management. More than 70 percent of CEOs are seeking a better understanding of individual customer needs and improved responsiveness. Given the need for deep customer insight, outperformers have a distinct advantage. They are far more adept at converting data into insights, and insights into action. Although face-to-face will remain the most prevalent form of customer interaction, CEOs expect a step-change in the use of social media. Over half expect social channels to be a primary way of engaging customers within five years.
Extensive partnering is providing the edge CEOs need to take on radical innovation. The pressure to innovate is not subsiding, and organizations are teaming to meet the challenge. More than half of all CEOs are partnering extensively to drive innovation. Compared to their less successful peers, outperformers are partnering for innovation more aggressively. But they are also tackling more challenging and disruptive types of innovation. Instead of settling for simply creating new products or implementing more efficient operations, they’re more likely to be moving into other industries or even inventing entirely new ones...To steer their organizations effectively, CEOs told us three leadership traits are most critical: inspirational leadership, customer obsession and leadership teaming across the C-suite. Interestingly, these characteristics closely align with the goals of empowering employees through values, engaging customers as individuals and amplifying innovation with partnerships. This linkage illustrates what CEOs intuitively know: their evolution as leaders directly impacts their organizations’ behavior, culture and, ultimately, results.