The way leaders view topics such as managing people, purpose, pricing, and productivity has changed dramatically. That’s what Gartner’s annual survey of CEOs and senior executives reveals. The study also showed growing concern around the world over discussions of sustainability, changing labor patterns and rising inflation.
“2022 is a year of real change in CEO perspectives,” said Mark Raskino, distinguished research vice president at Gartner. “The pandemic has gradually exposed some profound societal trends, such as the desire to change the way we work and the fragility of remote global supply chains. The recent Russian invasion of Ukraine has exacerbated macroeconomic factors that CEOs must now grapple with, such as inflation.”
Analysts also highlighted the high demands of organizations for this new phase of digitalization of operations. “Against this backdrop, CEOs’ digital business ambitions continue unabated, even in the face of the pandemic and related crises.”
Gartner’s 2022 annual survey of CEOs and senior business executives was conducted between July 2021 and December 2021, and included more than 400 CEOs and other business executives from companies across North America, Europe and Asia Pacific across industries.
Artificial intelligence (AI) was named the most impactful new technology by CEOs for the third year in a row. On the other hand, 63% of executives said Metaverse is a technology that is “not applicable” or “unlikely” to be adopted strategically in the business.
“In the past, some CEOs may have embraced the idea of new technology because they were too excited,” Raskino said. “However, in the case of the Metaverse, it is questionable whether respondents who believe it is likely to be a critical technology for their business are as confident as they seem.”
“The remaining list of influential technologies reminds us that ‘new’ is in the eye of the beholder. Neither digital nor e-commerce, in second and fourth place respectively, are relatively new, however. , many business leaders still see these technologies as new and disruptive in their circumstances.”
For the first time in the history of this survey, CEOs ranked environmental sustainability as their top 10 strategic business priorities, ranking No. 8, a sharp jump from No. 14 in 2019 and No. 20 in 2015.
“As business leaders feel pressure from key stakeholders to do more for environmental sustainability, they now see the necessary change as an opportunity to drive business efficiency and revenue growth,” the analysts noted.
74% of CEOs agree that increasing environmental, social and governance (ESG) efforts can attract investors to their companies. Of the 80 percent of CEOs who want to invest in new or improved products this year and next, environmental sustainability ranks as the third-largest driver, behind functional performance and overall quality. Sustainability also appears to be a competitive advantage for CEOs in 2022 and 2023—in fact, it’s at the same level as respondents’ trust in brands.
62% of CEOs see headline price inflation as an ongoing or long-term problem. Their main response to inflation is to increase prices (51% of respondents), not productivity and efficiency (22% of respondents). In fact, productivity and efficiency weren’t even among the CEO’s top ten business priorities this year.
“It’s clear that people are a little complacent about the impact of inflation,” Raschino said. “When asked about the top two sources of competitive differentiation, only 3% of CEOs mentioned price. Gartner expects this to change rapidly as inflation persists.”