A balanced agenda

Click here - 26th Annual Global CEO Survey: India perspective

How much time and money are you investing in the future?

To effectively navigate the dual challenge of dealing with the present while preparing for the future, CEOs must perform a balancing act that starts with their own calendars. It appears that for 26% of India CEOs, driving current operating performance ‘actually’ consumes the biggest share of their time. Asked how they would ideally allocate their time if they could start with a blank calendar, 24% of India CEOs say that they would like to spend more time evolving their business and its strategy to meet future demands and 19%, ideally engaging with and mentoring/developing employees.

It is also clear from the responses that technology- and reinvention-oriented investments are a top priority for many CEOs. Around 85% of India respondents are investing in upskilling their workforce in priority areas, 82% in automating processes and 81% in deploying technology such as cloud and AI over the next 12 months.

Asked to what extent the different investment areas are needed to preserve their current business and to reinvent for the future, both global and India CEOs flag investments in deploying advanced technologies as a priority for reinventing the business for the future.

Base: Those respondents who are making an investment in any of these areas in the next 12 months

A balanced agenda

“The power sector has huge growth potential and is poised to move to the next level with a laser focus on renewable sources and their integration with digital technologies, including storage, smart grid, smart metering and other integrated solutions. These can help the country leapfrog from conventional generation, transmission and distribution to a more distributed power generation and electricity service model providing better quality service to consumers.”

– Dr. Praveer Sinha, CEO and Managing Director, Tata Power Co. Ltd

Constantly evolving technologies make upskilling a challenge in today’s world. A range of social jobs are also growing in demand because of certain trends that may influence the future composition of labour markets. According to the World Economic Forum’s 'The Future of Jobs Report 2020',12 the adoption of new technologies will entail upskilling for 50% of all workers by 2025.

CEOs are therefore striving to perform a balancing act to preserve the current business while reinventing the business for the future.

The next steps

The balancing act facing India CEOs starts with his/her own calendar and extends to most corporate resource allocation decisions. The CEOs need to:

  • invest in upskilling as a lever to address talent shortage and provide training as required
  • invest in technology to reinvent the business
  • speed up investment in alternative energy sources and decarbonising.

How central are YOU to your company’s reinvention?

Reinventing the business, ensuring it is future-fit while navigating near-term operating challenges requires C-suite leaders, middle managers and front-line employees to work in tandem. Engaged and empowered organisations move faster, innovate more readily, and collaborate more effectively to get work done. The CEOs’ responses in this survey to questions on their companies’ leaders and employees throw up some warning signs but also underline some positives.

About 78% of India CEOs say that the leaders of their company rarely or just occasionally make strategic decisions for their division or function without consulting them. Around 65% (as opposed to 56% of global CEOs) say that the leaders encourage dissent and debate; 51% (as against 46% of global CEOs) say that they tolerate small-scale failures. About 93% of India CEOs (85% of global) underline their employees are often/usually aligned with their company’s values and direction.

Reluctance on the part of leaders to take independent strategic decisions seems to indicate that conditions are not appropriate for managers and employees to independently grasp new opportunities or respond to disruptive threats.

The next steps

CEOs and their top teams have to drive change and business reinvention top-down in the years ahead. Transformation is only possible when individuals at all levels adapt and grow. For this, the leadership has to:

  • decentralise decision-making and empower leaders in their companies to take strategic decisions independently
  • double down on setting a shared vision and being visible champions of change
  • encourage small-scale risk-taking and tolerate small-scale failure and dissent
  • use technology to augment human potential
  • balance business considerations with individual aspirations.

What kind of ecosystem are you building?

The diversity and complexity of today’s business challenges are placing a premium on the need to collaborate across the boundaries of the corporation. To get a window on these dynamics, we asked CEOs how they forge partnerships  with whom and to what objective. The results show that companies work with a wide network of collaborators, and those relationships are most often struck to create new sources of value. Addressing sustainable development, education and climate change is more often a goal of collaboration with non-business entities such as NGOs and government agencies. In fact, 73% of CEOs collaborate with non-business entities to address sustainable development, while 57% of CEOs collaborate on education.

The survey indicates that 31% of India companies are more likely to collaborate with industry consortia to create new sources of value, while only 22% work with industry consortia to address societal issues.

Companies, however, partner with non-business entities such as governments, NGOs and academic institutions to address sustainable development, diversity, equity and inclusion (DE&I), education, climate change and other such issues, with 73% of India respondents saying they are engaged in collaboration on sustainable development.

The next steps

The magnitude of today’s global challenges makes it critical for CEOs to extend their use of collaborative ecosystems beyond creating business value to generating societal value. To do this, they have to:

  • commit their organisations to an ESG identity factoring in the multiple stakeholder view of the ESG focus areas
  • map the interests of critical ecosystem partners; identify the combinations of talent, technology, processes and insights that those partners can provide
  • build trust through reciprocity; and nurture a corporate culture that embraces collaboration across traditional institutional lines
  • co-create innovative solutions, technologies, and hybrid partnership and business models that address sustainable development challenges.
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Sanjeev Krishan

Sanjeev Krishan

Chairperson, PwC India

Tel: +91 124 330 6017

Vivek  Prasad

Vivek Prasad

Markets Leader, PwC India