PwC 19th Annual Global CEO Survey

PwC 19th Annual Global CEO Survey

Your Company May Have Been Hacked and FYI - It’s Not So Pretty

I readily admit it - I am a bit of a nerd. Not a “Big Bang Theory” type of nerd, but a “life hack” nerd. I love to hack your companies and see what you are doing and I love to see what is revealed when others hack your companies too. During a hack, you sometimes find that the wizard behind the curtain is scary and sometimes, simply beautiful!

Each January I get excited because it is time for the release of the Pricewaterhouse Coopers (PwC) Annual Global CEO Survey (a global hack). I have the survey release as a recurring event on my calendar, watch the live presentation of the findings, explore the survey data online, and buy a new highlighter to mark up the whitepaper. (I did caveat this confession with “nerd.” Now, there is a life hack for you!)

When I start my review of the survey findings, I jump to findings around talent, predictive analytics, performance measurement and big data. I was shocked to see very limited focus around most of these topics this year. Then I realized it is not that PwC did not address these areas, it turns out that in 2016 they were not currently a top concern or priority for global CEOs. In the past few years, the survey findings revealed extensive focus on concerns about recruiting, retaining talent and the desire to prioritize talent analytics employing big data. In 2015, many CEOs reported that they lacked critical information about their workforce and were prioritizing data analytics initiatives. These issues of talent analytics hardly appeared in the 2016 findings. I am sure talent problems have neither been solved nor have the gaps been closed. Obviously, concerns and priorities appear to have shifted.

 This year the top concerns for global CEOs were:

  1. Over-regulation (79%)
  2. Geopolitical uncertainty (74%)
  3. Exchange rate volatility (73%)
  4. Availability of key skills (72%)
  5. Government response to fiscal deficit and debt burden (71%)
  6. Increasing tax burden (69%)
  7. Social instability (65%)
  8. Cyber threats (61%)
  9. Shift in consumer spending and behaviors (60%)
  10. Lack of trust in business (55%)
  11. Climate change and environmental damage (50%)


The top talent strategy that companies seem to be prioritizing for 2016 is to focus on their leadership pipeline. Specifically, on developing millennials as leaders. Shockingly, only 4% of global CEOs reported using predictive workforce analytics! This is insanity! Of course, there are corporate initiatives around big data and learning and development initiatives to optimize the workforce, but these are not being linked to predictive analytics to enable data-driven decisions. Why is talent - the corporate engine - always the forgotten child? At some point, that ‘check engine light’ will begin to flash and you may find yourself stranded by the roadside.

Overall, CEO confidence in global economic growth (27%) and business growth prospects (35%) in 2016 have declined since last year (37% and 39%, respectively) and are only slightly higher than the 2009 downturn. Given the lack of confidence, the current geopolitical climate and global economic woes, I am not surprised to see talent analytics sink on the priority list, but talent decisions still have to be made. I only hope that organizations have their own in-house ‘nerds’ championing talent analytics while the CEOs are fighting other monsters.

I encourage you to review the PwC 19th Annual Global CEO Survey and see what big takeaway you find.

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