23 May 2018 News
Northern Ireland CEOs expect company growth while facing up to headwinds
92 percent predict growth over the next three years but expectations modest
Northern Ireland’s business leaders are confident their companies will grow over the next three years, despite facing challenges from the threat of cyber attack, from geopolitics and from generational shifts, according to the KPMG Global CEO Outlook.
The survey, which garnered insight from Northern Ireland CEOs and those around the world, found a pragmatic group of leaders who are determined to put strategies in motion to overcome these ‘growing pains’ and to personally drive digital transformation and the transition of the workforce for the digital age.
John Hansen, Partner in Charge at KPMG in Northern Ireland said:
“Northern Ireland’s CEOs are driving their businesses forward at a time of great change. Our survey shows they are having to be agile in order to meet the challenges posed in an ever-changing environment where new threats are emerging all the time.
“With those challenges comes opportunity and by exhibiting the fortitude, resilience and innovation with which they have become known for, Northern Ireland companies will be able to thrive in the run-up to and after Brexit.”
The survey found 92% of CEOs here were confident about their company’s growth prospects in the next three years, similar to the global average of 91% but less than the 100% confidence amongst chief executives in the Republic.
However, the report - which surveyed 1,300 CEOs across many of the world’s largest and most successful businesses - showed that expectations for business growth are low in Northern Ireland.
Most (84%) leaders predict an uplift of under 2% over the next three years and just 16% expect growth of 2%-4.99%. In the Republic those figures are 72% and 24% respectively, with 4% of chief executives there expecting growth of 5% and over.
Stepping up to the challenges
When it comes to the specific challenges which Northern Ireland companies face, nearly two thirds place operational risk as the biggest worry, followed by cyber security risk and talent risk.
Interestingly, the threat of a return to territorialism was only cited as a threat to growth by one quarter of Northern Ireland chief executives, despite being one of the most important threats for those in the Republic and further afield.
Disruption is being welcomed as an opportunity by 92% of CEOs in Northern Ireland and, encouragingly, only 8% believe their organisation is struggling to keep pace with the rate of technical innovation in their sector. In fact, most (92%) are actively disrupting the sector rather than waiting to be disrupted by others.
Dealing with cyber threats
Despite the ever present risk of a cyber attack, the survey revealed Northern Ireland leaders were more confident about identifying and dealing with a cyber attack than those in the Republic or compared to the average for CEOs across the world.
Two thirds (68%) of CEOs in Northern Ireland feel well prepared for a cyber attack and only slightly less (60%) feel able to contain the impact of a cyber attack on their strategic operations. Three quarters are confident they are prepared to identify new cyber threats and nearly all (96%) feel able to manage external stakeholders in the event of an attack.
Adapting for the millennial workforce
Millennials also weigh heavy on Northern Ireland CEO minds. Half (48%) said understanding how their needs differ from older customers is a challenge while the same percentage said responding to millennials' expectations is also difficult. Other challenges include appointing senior members who can better relate to millennials and attracting millennials’ attention amidst competing brands.
John Hansen, Partner in Charge at KPMG in Northern Ireland