South African CEOs remain optimistic about the next 3 years and look to be disruptive

KPMG in South Africa has released its 2017 CEO Outlook, based on in-depth interviews with 50 CEOs of some of the country’s largest companies. This year’s CEO Outlook reveals that 68 percent of CEOs see disruptive forces as an opportunity, not a threat, for their business. CEOs are still broadly confident about the prospects for the global economy, but their optimism is more modest than it was last year, with only 42 percent expressing confidence.

In the face of new challenges and uncertainties, CEOs are feeling the urgency to ‘disrupt and grow’. Disruption has become a fact of life for CEOs and their businesses as they respond to heightened uncertainty. But importantly, most see disruption as an opportunity to transform their business model, develop new products and services, and reshape their business so it is more successful than ever before.

Highlights of KPMG’s 2017 CEO Outlook

KPMG’s 2017 CEO Outlook report provides insights of South African CEOs’ expectations for business growth, the challenges they face and their strategies to chart organisational success over the next three years. Key findings include:

  • In 2017, South African CEOs are not as confident about the prospects for the global economy (42 percent).
  • Almost seven in 10 CEOs (68 percent) see disruption as an opportunity, not a threat, for their business. And overwhelming 86 percent say that their organisations are actively disrupting the sector in which they operate.
  • Within their own businesses, six in 10 CEOs describe themselves as confident in their company’s growth prospects for the next three years.
  • Nine in 10 (92 percent) say they are evolving their skills and personal qualities to better lead their business.

CEOs understand that speed to market and innovation are strategic priorities for growth in uncertain political conditions. That’s why a whopping 88 percent are spending much more time on scenario planning as a result of an uncertain geopolitical climate. It is against that backdrop that this Thursday, KPMG in South Africa will host an event with world leaders in geo-strategy, senior business leaders and subject matter experts to try and make sense of Brexit, the US, the spread of populism, a claw back from globalisation, a clash of ideologies and Africa’s contribution in global politics.

Technology challenges – a battle for talent

With emerging cognitive technology making its way into South African businesses, 80 percent of the CEOs are confident that their company headcount will remain the same for the next three years.

While CEOs are focusing on evolving their businesses, they are also evolving their own role – 74 percent of CEOs say they are now more open to new influences and collaborations than at any other point in their career.

A focus on trust

In light of operating within an increasingly transparent business environment, almost every CEO (94 percent) say their organisation is placing greater importance on trust, values and culture in order to sustain its long-term future. CEOs are seeing this trend continue for the immediate future with 86 percent saying that building greater trust among external stakeholders and customers is among the top three priorities of their organisation today.

Indeed, companies today are increasingly realising that building trust is consistent with their business objectives.

Visit our website for details of the CEO Survey

You can also follow the conversation @KPMG_SA on Twitter using the hashtag: #CEOoutlook.

MakgotsoMakgotso Letsitsi
Executive Director
KPMG in South Africa






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Femi Oke

About Femi Oke

Relentless passion for creativity and digital acumen to help a professional services firm thrive in the digital space. Femi is an individual with a rich experience on regional African knowledge, its diverse business culture and he understands the continent’s economic drive. He thrives on selfless service and lasting mutually beneficial relationships with colleagues and especially clients encountered in the course of his duties. He is creative, practical and self-motivated with business judgement in corporate, brand and strategic communications, social, digital & traditional media and executive profiling. Roles in the firm include New Media, Digital Communication, Corporate Communication, executive profiling and Brand Management execution. Working on the multi-million dollar Africa high growth market project stands out for femi; besides this, managing all KPMG’s digital communication for the World Economic Forum on Africa is another project that gives him great delight. Femi holds a Masters Degree in Global Marketing from the University of Liverpool.
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