London: A new IBM study of more than 1,700 Chief Executive Officers from 60 countries and 18 industries worldwide illustrates that UK and Ireland companies need a better understanding of their customers to help forge closer connections and stronger relationships.
- UK and Ireland CEOs aim to significantly escalate the level of social media engagement with customers over the next five years, with face-to-face interaction becoming less important (20% said social media is one of the three most important form of interaction now, but 57% said it would be in the top three in 3-5 years time. On the other hand 80% saw face-to-face interaction as one of the three most important forms of interaction now, but 67% thought it would be in 3-5 years time)
- UK and Ireland CEOs see customer relationships and human capital as the most important drivers of sustained business success (63% said these factors were key drivers of sustained economic value)
- Customers are seen as the most important part of businesses to invest in understanding better according to 75% of UK and Ireland CEOs
The IBM study results also reveal that CEOs in UK and Ireland see innovation and partnership working as an essential source of development and growth;
- For the first time, UK and Ireland CEOs identify technology as the most important external force impacting their organisations — even more than shifting economic and market conditions (76% said technology was one of the most important factors, against 63% for macroeconomic factors)
- UK and Ireland CEOs value business partnerships more than their global peers; 47% rate business partnership networks as an important source of economic value compared to the global average of 28%
- 84% of UK and Ireland CEOs plan extensive external partnerships over the next five years vs. a figure of 69% globally
The UK and Ireland study results reflect a global trend toward more open, team-based working environments, with CEOs believing that collaboration is key to employee success;
- UK and Ireland CEOs look for collaboration and flexibility as key personal characteristics for employee success (80% said "flexible" was an important trait, with 82% saying "collaborative" was important)
- CEOs say a collaborative environment is also the most important way to engage employees (84% of CEOs said it is crucial for employee engagement, against a much smaller 31% saying the same for financial rewards)
- Inspirational leadership and leadership teaming are seen as the most important characteristics for a CEO to achieve personal success
Stephen Leonard, Chief Executive, IBM UK and Ireland commented on the findings, "In these difficult times, CEOs are turning to partnerships and technology to help them overcome the challenges their organisations are facing. CEOs that drive their organisations to innovate, collaborate and understand their customers better will be well-placed to achieve success, both now and in the long-term."