Today, Gartner released its 2023 CEO and Senior Business Executive Survey, highlighting the top business priorities for CEOs.
The survey was conducted from July through December 2022 among over 400 chief executive officers (CEOs) and other senior business executives, across different industries, revenue levels, and company sizes, in North America, Europe, Asia/Pacific, Latin America, the Middle East and South Africa.
Despite economic headwinds, growth remained the top strategic business priority for nearly half of the surveyed executives.
“When determining business priorities, CEOs are hesitant, but not frozen,” said Kristin Moyer, distinguished VP analyst at Gartner. “More than half of CEOs believe an economic downturn or recession in 2023 will be shallow and short, and the survey showed only a modest rise in cash flow, capital, and fundraising concerns.”
But inflation continues to be worrying for CEOs, as nearly a quarter cited greater price sensitivity as the biggest shift in customer expectations they anticipate in 2023.
However, they intend to continue to increase prices (44 per cent) in response to inflation, optimize costs (36 per cent), as well as increasing focus on productivity, efficiency and automation.
Technology continues to be a top focus area for CEOs. Over 20 per cent believe that AI (artificial intelligence) is the top disruptive technology that will significantly impact their industry over the next three years.
“Generative AI will profoundly impact business and operating models,” said Mark Raskino, distinguished VP analyst at Gartner. “However, fear of missing out is a powerful driver of technology markets. AI is reaching the tipping point where CEOs who are not yet invested become concerned that they are missing something competitively important.”
Further, the survey reveals that CEOs continue to grapple with the volatility of the job market, as 26 per cent cited talent shortage as the most damaging risk for their organization. They also expect growing concerns about compensation and a shift in prospective employee behavior, characterized by an increased desire for greater flexibility and remote/hybrid work.
“The emphasis on pay is not surprising in an inflationary environment, but in prior economic cycles, unemployment would typically be undermining labor market power,” stated Raskino.
For the first time ever, environmental sustainability ranked among CEOs’ top 10 priorities, with mentions of it rising 25 per cent from last year’s survey. Gartner predicts that by 2026, environmental sustainability will be a higher CEO strategic business priority than the technology-related category.