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August 8th, 2017

CEO Priorities Veer Toward Speed and Disruption

KPMG recently published results of a study of U.S. CEOs priorities for 2017.

While the study was based on 400 large companies, much of the study is consistent with mid-size company CEOs with whom we work. In general, CEOs’ confidence is trending up. They see this as a time of opportunity and are investing in their businesses. They’re focusing on growth—specifically growth in U.S. markets. At BOLTGROUP we are well positioned to assist our clients with achieving this growth.

CEOs said their #1 priority for 2017 is speed to market. This, of course, should always be a priority, and the directive should come from the top. It encompasses all aspects of a business—moving more quickly, investing for speed, implementing more quickly, and bringing innovative products to market faster than the competition. And while the focus on speed is important, CEOs must also ensure that they are bringing products of quality and value to their customers. Your products are your brand and brand is always job one!

Building and retaining public trust is now the #3 priority for CEOs. Brands have never been more fragile than today, when a single tweet can start an image-damaging chain reaction. Businesses must actively “bank” trust and goodwill. CEOs need to monitor alignment of their core values, business strategy, and clear communication of purpose, while offering products that truly improve the quality of their customers’ lives. Our digital universe enables close attention and improvement to the experience received at every touchpoint in their supply chain.

In previous years CEOs were afraid of disruptive technologies in their marketplace. Now CEO’s view disruptive technology challenges as opportunities to create advantage. They embrace disruptive technologies to stay relevant. CEOs now are the very ones to disrupt their own business for a positive outcome before someone else does it and takes their customers. Our specialty is helping clients explore opportunities, weigh benefits, and develop technologies for disruptive new product lines.

An interesting note is that geographic expansion, diversification, and acquisitions fell to the bottom of CEOs priorities this year.

Becoming a more consumer-centric organization has moved down the list of CEOs’ priorities from #1 in 2016 to #10 this year. We hope this is a short-term trend and will be reversed. It is the equivalent of taking your eye off the ball. Customer-centric companies invest in their customers, and expand products and services to address their needs. They put consumers at the heart of all their decision making. Companies that can provide a positive experience before and after the sale drive repeat business; they “bank” both customer loyalty and profits.

At BOLTGROUP we work closely with several best-in-class, consumer-centric companies. We employ ethnography and other research techniques to better understand their customers, their customers’ brand perceptions, and their product experiences. This consumer-centric focus is their competitive advantage and it’s driven from the CEO throughout the entire organization.

Improving speed to market, becoming more consumer-centric, and developing disruptive new products are some of the ways we will be helping our clients in 2017 and 2018.

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