A theme for many CEOs and businesses in general during 2016 was disruptive technology and the opportunities it created. Adapting to change, staff management and business growth were also key areas of concern. Wary optimism was the prevailing mood and maintaining momentum among a myriad of threats was of high concern.

In late 2015, the CEO Institute and Pronto Software commissioned research surveying 175 CEOs and discovered the 5 top areas of concern for CEOs in 2016.

Top 5 concern for CEOs in 2016

  1. Hiring & retaining talented staff

    Keeping long-term existing staff motivated and retaining and attracting new staff were top areas of concern in 2016. Employees are now requesting more flexibility for a seamless work—life balance, and younger professionals are likely to look further afield if these needs can’t be met. Greater opportunity for development was also of interest and keeping staff engaged by building a great culture was paramount.

  2. Mastering disruptive technology

    Some CEOs view technology as an opportunity to allow large-scale changes to business processes. As a result, both disruption and opportunity were big trends in 2016. Technology, however, brings in its wake the risk of cybersecurity issues and hackers. Sophisticated methods are constantly emerging and the protection of consumers is now a cause of concern for everyone in the business, not just the IT department.

  3. Business growth

    The need to manage a sluggish market in the Australian economy was another concern for many CEOs in 2016. Obtaining capital for growth, although at low interest rates, proved difficult while managing growth expectations was a challenge. A lower growth period may be ‘the new normal’ for some time and signs of market weakness may well prepare business for this.

  4. Economic uncertainty

    Reduced business budgets and apprehension over spending became cause for anxiety among many with some setting more conservative targets for their teams.

  5. Managing change & improving processes

    Managing change seems to be a consequence of other trends including the economic situation, international competition and technological developments. Many view change as necessary and others are looking to harness innovation for real change to occur. Keeping companies running smoothly and profitably was of concern for many CEOs in 2016. Aside from the challenges around adapting to new technologies, the political environment locally and internationally was also a worry to many businesses.

Social media channels became rather crowded spaces; as a result, active brand management was critical. Connecting to target audiences had never been easier, yet reputation management was required. Keeping up with the execution of new ideas, changes in the market place, ever-moving consumer behaviour and 24/7 news means businesses needed to be able to move fast enough for the best chance of growth and success.

What new challenges will CEOs face in 2017?