Speed of technological change is top worry of New Zealand CEOs: PwC

PwC provides CEOs with a checklist for achieving 'growth in a disrupted world'

Availability of key skills, speed of technological change and cyber threats and data security are the topmost concerns of New Zealand CEOs.

But of these three, the speed of technology change is the biggest mover, increasing to 68 per cent from 37 per cent in 2014, reports PWC as it releases the New Zealand results of its 18th Annual Global CEO Survey. This figure is also slightly higher than the concern raised by 58 per cent of CEOs globally.

"What we found is that rapid change in the marketplace is presenting just as many opportunities as risks, particularly in the technology space," says PwC NZ CEO Bruce Hassall.

NZ CEOs say mobile, security and data mining are the most strategically important technologies.

Meanwhile, concern about cyber threats and the lack of data security has also radically increased for 66 per cent of New Zealand CEOs compared to 40 per cent last year. This is also true across the globe (61 per cent for CEOs globally, 48 per cent in 2014).

Mobile technologies are seen by 84 per cent of New Zealand CEOs as most important to their company (81 per cent globally), followed by cybersecurity (81 per cent versus 78 per cent globally), data mining and analysis (77 per cent versus 80 percent globally), cloud computing (74 per cent versus 60 per cent globally) and the internet of things (73 per cent versus 65 per cent).

PwC says it interviewed 1322 CEOs - with 62 from New Zealand – for the report A marketplace without boundaries released at the recent World Economic Forum in Switzerland.

Rapid change in the marketplace is presenting just as many opportunities as risks, particularly in the technology space

Bruce Hassall, PwC NZ

New Zealand companies say they get the most benefit from digital technologies in the areas of operating efficiency (87 per cent), customer experience (85 per cent) and data and data analytics (82 per cent).

“There is a big opportunity for all businesses in data analytics with new digital technologies enabling people to capture vast amounts of information about customers, supply chains and all organisations that interact with them. How you then make use of that information to drive your business will be a critical success factor,” notes Hassall.

The CEO checklist for achieving growth in a disrupted world:

• Are you using technology and data to assist in strategic and risk decisions?

• How widely are you looking to see how your industry could be disrupted?

• Are you assessing the impact of cross-sector competition, emerging business models and new technologies?

• Do you have the right team in place to executive initiatives – or change direction, if needed – in order to compete in a rapidly changing marketplace?

• How is your growth strategy in mature markets changing as these nations continue to see economic improvements?

• If you have a growth strategy for emerging markets, is it flexible enough to take into account key structural and political issues in these countries? (Source: PwC 18th Annual Global CEO Survey)

New Zealand CEOs also expressed concern over the availability of key skills, as cited by 84 per cent of the local respondents, which is more than the global level (of 73 per cent), and up from last year’s figure of 80 per cent.

As New Zealand CEOs seek to meet the challenge of finding the right people, 73 per cent say they are looking for a broader range of skills.

Nearly a third (32 per cent) of New Zealand CEOs’ organisations has a diversity and inclusiveness strategy– meaning nearly two-thirds don’t, according to PwC.

Of those who have such strategies, 80 per cent say it has improved their bottom line. New Zealand is behind global trends in this area, with nearly two-thirds of CEO organisations having a diversity and inclusiveness strategy internationally, with 85 per cent saying it improved their bottom line.

Send news tips and comments to

Follow Divina Paredes on Twitter: @divinap

Follow CIO New Zealand on Twitter:@cio_nz

Sign up for CIO newsletters for regular updates on CIO news, views and events.

Join us on Facebook.