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PwC-Most-Transformative-Trends-per-US-CEOs-Jan2014Which global trends will most transform business over the next 5 years? For US CEOs, technological advances are the most disruptive, according to US-specific results [pdf] from PricewaterhouseCoopers’ 17th annual Global CEO survey. Fully 86% of respondents named tech advances one of their top 3 (of 5) transformative trends, ahead of demographic shifts (69%) and shifts in global economic power (58%).

CEOs’ responses are consistent with an earlier report from IBM released last year. In that study, CEOs from around the world named technology factors their most externally disruptive force. Interestingly, CEOs were the only members of the C-suite to put tech in that position, with market forces figuring prominently among other titles.

Tech advances can also be an obstacle to growth, and 57% of US CEOs (and 47% globally) are concerned about the speed of technological change as a potential threat to growth. While that’s far behind other concerns – such as the government response to fiscal deficit and debt burden (92%) and slow or negative growth in developed economies (81%) – it’s a significant step up from 43% of respondents who cited the threat the previous year.

In order to capitalize on transformative global trends, the vast majority of US CEOs are either considering or implementing change in a number of areas, ranging from customer growth and retention strategies (93%) to use and management of data and data analytics (90%) and channels to market (79%).

A word of caution to marketers: only 36% of US CEOs believe that the marketing/brand management function is “well prepared” to make the changes necessary to capitalize on the transformative global trends. That puts marketing towards the bottom of the list in terms of sound preparedness, above sales (33%), IT (32%) and R&D (20%), but well below other functions such as executive (63%), finance (50%) and risk management (42%), among others.

About the Data: PwC conducted 162 interviews with CEOs from US-headquartered organizations as part of its 17th Annual PwC Global CEO Survey. In all, PwC conducted a total of 1,344 interviews with CEOs in 68 countries worldwide between September 9 and December 6, 2013. The interviews were spread across a range of industries.

All interviews were conducted on a confidential basis. Fifty-four percent of the interviews were conducted by telephone; 38% online; and 8% by post.

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