In a global survey, KPMG asked the opinion of 1,300 CEOs, of which 50 are based in Switzerland. In regard to their most pressing issues in the coming years, there are some clear indications where the journey might be going. Interestingly though, Swiss issues sometimes diverge from global issues.
Above all, Swiss CEOs aim to speed up their go-to-market processes for products and services. Speed-to-market is one of the most important near-future goals for 15 percent of the international CEOs surveyed who ranked it as one of their top three issues. However, Swiss CEO’s rank speed-to-market five percent higher than their peers (Swiss CEOs 20%; Global 15%). Moreover, 22 percent of Swiss CEOs would like to improve their communication to investors.
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Companies in Switzerland approach innovation very differently. Swiss CEOs report that innovation is an integral part of their company’s strategy and actively sourced through cooperative ventures with start-ups and universities. In comparison, foreign CEOs are more inclined to view innovation as arising from corporate culture and formal corporate processes, a higher risk appetite, collaboration with third parties and input from senior management.
M&As are a strategic priority
16 percent of Swiss CEOs see M&As or joint ventures as a legitimate way to expand or develop their company. A geographic expansion only seems interesting to 10 percent of them. Thirty-two percent indicate that they are planning a strategic acquisition in the next three years. This means that while Swiss companies are quite eager to grow, they aren’t willing to disperse their resources unnecessarily. Swiss and international CEOs agree on the importance of lean corporate processes. Both consider the best way to reach their strategic goals is to streamline internal processes (CH 44%; Global 43%).
Placing data management and client needs at the center
For me, it is not that surprising that Swiss CEOs see the proper way of handling mass data as a further priority. Indeed, it is also one of KPMG’s concerns. 18 percent of my peers consider focusing on better data management competences to be a strategic success factor in the future. However, developing data security solutions and artificial intelligence aren’t quite such burning issues for Swiss CEOs as they seem to be internationally. Only 16 percent and 8 percent, respectively, put these topics on their priority list. Global corporations mention these topics much more frequently (22% and 20%, respectively). Not surprisingly for a society active mostly in the tertiary sector, client orientation holds a special place for many CEOs. In fact, one third of Swiss CEOs state that they consider collecting, measuring and analyzing data on client needs to be a strategic priority — clearly higher than CEOs abroad (21%).
Full survey: CEO Outlook – Now or Never
What is the CEO Outlook?
KPMG has asked more than 1,300 CEOs in a global cross-industry study on their take on medium-term growth perspectives and transaction expectations, on the promotion of innovation, the handling of digitization and risks and human resources.
In the current series of articles, I will further highlight some of the specific perceptions of the Swiss CEOs who participated in this study.