Many CEOs are confident in their ability to manage industry change and succeed in a highly competitive, innovation-focused environment.
The prospect of uncertainty would traditionally cause businesses to restrict their investments in innovation. Yet CEOs today are scaling up, rather than scaling back on technology-led innovation. For many, fresh thinking is a logical response to challenging conditions. CEOs may be focusing on existing markets as a growth priority, but the strategic initiatives they are pursuing across the rest of the business all support innovation in one respect or another. We also see many CEOs taking a hands-on role in the innovation process.
Aviva’s Mark Wilson is a good example of a CEO who takes a close personal interest in enabling disruption. When his company set up a “digital garage” in London to explore digital opportunities, Wilson describes how he helped make the initiative a success. “I knew we had to cut the ties between the digital business and the old business,” Wilson says. “At the launch I said, ‘Your strategy is to compete with and cannibalize the rest of the business.’ Everyone hated that. But I had to make sure that no one in the traditional business could block what we were doing. It’s changed the total dynamic.”
Disruption is not without its risks, especially when the majority of competitors are also planning to out-innovate the market. The vast majority (97 percent in the Republic and 84 percent in Northern Ireland) are expecting major disruption in their sector in the next 3 years - significantly higher than the 48 percent recorded worldwide.
According to Anna Scally of KPMG in Ireland “The simple truth is that CEOs need to look at internal processes and how to be efficient, and how to use technology in more savvy ways. It is about looking at products and services, thinking about the USP and considering how to be innovative,” she says. “It is about standing out from the crowd, and using technology to do that.”
Globally, our findings suggest that many CEOs are confident in their ability to manage industry change and succeed in a highly competitive, innovation-focussed environment. 48 percent of CEOs worldwide say they are concerned about their business model being disrupted by a new entrant who they do not currently see as a competitor. However in both the Republic of Ireland (97 percent) and Northern Ireland (92 percent) the figure is significantly higher.