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CEOs grapple with problem of keeping up with technology advances

Some Australian business leaders are encountering problems in mastering disruptive technology with a newly published report revealing that they are having trouble keeping up with the latest in technological advances.

According to a joint survey by Pronto Software and the CEO Institute, around 21% of business leaders said their organisations’ ability to keep up with technological advances was a key concern.

And, despite the fact that CEOs know that technology will make or break their organisations’ ability to grow in the future, almost half (48%) of them say they are unsure about which technology will do that for their business.

Publication of the survey coincides with Pronto’s launch of Pronto Xi 740, the next-generation of its flagship ERP and analytics software. Pronto managing director Chad Gates says it follows close to 18 months of research and development, “with various new functionalities unleashed”.  

“It is the result of 132,000 hours of new product development, and 12,500 hours of listening to customer feedback. One of the hero enhancements allows staff at all levels to more easily query business data relevant to their role, reveal deeper insights than ever before, and closely track progress on business targets.”

Commenting on the newly published survey, Gates said in his own ongoing discussions with CEOs, technology was one element that could create “consistency and accuracy in what many are finding an uncertain landscape”.

“Our 2017 CEO survey shows the extent to which international events are shaping both the Australian business environment and the ways that organisations operate within it. While conditions may not be ideal, most of the surveyed CEOs are hoping for the best and getting ready for when things regain some semblance of normality.

By implementing a strong technological solution and embracing disruptive technology that is flexible and reliable, CEOs and their teams can gain clarity regarding how their business is performing, and empower their teams to make better decisions.

“Technology can truly put the power back into the hands of leaders, helping them navigate the company towards ongoing success.”

The survey reveals that in the “uncertainty” of current economic and political environment, 28% of CEOs are finding it hard to plan for the future.

Uncertainties include Britain’s vote to leave the EU, and the election of the 45th president of the United States took even the most knowledgeable analysts by surprise, with one respondent saying, “Donald Trump is creating havoc. Between him and Brexit, it’s hard to know where anything stands anymore.”

Handling growth: Since the start of 2017, the Australian economy appears to be gaining confidence, but business leaders remain cautious.

For 11% of survey respondents, a key concern for the rest of the year will be to “find growth in a low growth economic environment”, as one CEO put it.

According to the survey, one CEO said to sustain growth and revenues despite the seemingly unfavourable global conditions, businesses should innovate in as many ways as possible.

“If we want to keep growing the business, we have to develop new products and find new markets and consumers to sell them to.”

Another suggested developing niche products for niche markets will buy businesses us some time while things stabilise.

The survey also reveals a shift by CEOs since 2015 in their hiring and retaining of staff.

According to the survey, in 2015, hiring and retaining staff was the leading concern of CEOs and in 2016 they placed it second, while today, it is only an issue for 11% of CEOs, putting it on equal footing with the need to sustain growth and revenues.

Pronto and the CEO Institute says this change does not necessarily indicate that finding skilled talent is no longer an issue, “but it does show how leaders’ priorities have shifted”.

“It’s not so much about finding competent people anymore,” said one CEO. “It’s more about finding competent people who have the right skill and specialty we need at a specific moment in time.”


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Peter Dinham

Peter Dinham is a co-founder of iTWire and a 35-year veteran journalist and corporate communications consultant. He has worked as a journalist in all forms of media – newspapers/magazines, radio, television, press agency and now, online – including with the Canberra Times, The Examiner (Tasmania), the ABC and AAP-Reuters. As a freelance journalist he also had articles published in Australian and overseas magazines. He worked in the corporate communications/public relations sector, in-house with an airline, and as a senior executive in Australia of the world’s largest communications consultancy, Burson-Marsteller. He also ran his own communications consultancy and was a co-founder in Australia of the global photographic agency, the Image Bank (now Getty Images).