CEO Survey: Leaders confident in growth, focused on technology

Results are in from the 2015 Pricewaterhouse Coopers (PwC) CEO Survey: Business leaders are regaining confidence in U.S. business growth, putting a huge emphasis on emerging technologies.

PwC interviewed 1,322 leaders from 77 countries for the annual survey, including 103 U.S. CEOs. In addition, 28 U.S. CEOs were interviewed to get in-depth answers.

The first number from the survey that stands out is an interesting one: 2015 marks the first time in five years CEOs chose the United States as their most important market for overseas growth, even ahead of China.

“As the US recovery gains traction, it is gaining more adherents,” PwC said in its summary. “Challenges remain, yet key measures of U.S. economic health are improving.”

In addition, 67% U.S. CEOs believe there are more growth opportunities for their companies today than there were three years ago. And 46% are “very confident” they will achieve revenue growth in 2015.

At the center of the survey is an impactful force that seems to grow more influential each and every year: advancing technology.

While healthcare organizations juggle things such as ICD-10 compliance and EHRs, it’s important to remember that regulatory and technological change is happening in sectors all over the country, calling for new strategies.

For instance, partnerships are way up in 2015. 25% of U.S. CEOs said they currently partner with firms from other industries, and 39% say they are considering such a move. And 28% of U.S. CEOs said the No. 1 reason they partner is to get access to “new and emerging technologies.” As the PwC summary says, “Businesses are looking for a lot more from alliances than a sales conduit for existing products and services.”

Joel Allison, CEO of Baylor Scott & White Health, explained it this way when describing how he views competition in healthcare to PwC: “One way we address it is, to ask the question, ‘Can we partner with them?’ Our business is about relationships, and so it really is not just the organization, it’s the people inside that organization with whom we’re going to partner.”

As access to technology prompts partnerships, it also results in more time and money going into research and development. Thomas J. Lynch, chairman and CEO of TE Connectivity, told PwC businesses are putting a lot into manufacturing technology right now. “Sometimes that can be controversial with your investors, but you just have to do it,” he said.

Of course, more research and development often means more employees: 59% of the CEOs said they expect their business to expand headcount this year.

Other fascinating numbers to come out of the survey include:

  • Cybersecurity has 45% of CEOs “extremely concerned,” which more than doubles last year’s number of 22%.

  • 92% of CEOs agreed with this statement: “We always use multiple channels to find talent, including online platforms and social networks.”

  • 85% of CEOs agreed with this statement: “We actively search for talent in different geographies, industries and/or demographic segments.”