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CEOs in agreement at what needs to improve

The CEOs disagreed on many things in a survey, but acknowledged the need to speed up their business’s digital transformation

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CEOs across the world agree that accelerating the pace of digital transformation in their business is crucial in 2021, The Conference Board ‘C-Suite Challenge’ survey has found.

The survey, conducted following the US elections in November 2020, asked 1,538 C-suite executives, including 909 CEOs across the globe, on what was keeping them up at night.

The CEOs disagreed on many things, but one thing they acknowledged as one was the need to speed up their business’s digital transformation. Ecommerce businesses, such as Amazon, have thrived in the coronavirus pandemic and many companies have only survived because of a push to digital transactions.

Amazon registered its most profitable quarter ever in the three months ended 30 September 2020 as its North America revenue increased by 39.3 per cent year over year. Amazon’s revenue increased 37.4 per cent to a record US$96.15 billion. Its net income also set a quarterly record at US$6.33 billion, an increase of 196.7 per cent over the third quarter of 2019.

In Australia, Super Retail CEO Anthony Heraghty said in a trading update on Monday that online sales had increased 87 per cent to US$184 million (A$237 million) in the six months to 26 December. Super Retail, with a net wealth of US$2.1 billion (A$2.7 billion), operates stores including Rebel, Supercheap Auto and BCF.

“Online is no longer a side project – it is the main game,” Heraghty said, reported The Sydney Morning Herald .

The C-suite and CEOs were unanimous across the globe that digital transformation was vital.

“CEOs say their organisations will focus on accelerating digital transformation, modifying business models and improving innovation, all while controlling costs and improving cash flow. The current crisis means the luxury of having years-long lead time to digitally transform and experiment with new business models is gone. Recovery will require finding the right balance between conserving cash and investing in innovation needed to succeed in a new commercial landscape,” said The Conference Board in a statement.

When it came to returning workers to the office when the COVID-19 situation eases, the position of CEOs in the US and elsewhere varied greatly. Among CEOs globally it was the ninth most pressing thing, whereas US CEOs ranked it third. In addition, very few CEOs plan to further increase or decrease their remote workforce.

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The main aspects of the survey of The Conference Board C-Suite Challenge. Copyright: The Conference Board

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