Strategic Operating Environment Scan On the Minds of Business Leaders: Expectations for the Next 12 Months

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1 Strategic Operating Environment Scan 04 On the Minds of Business Leaders: Expectations for the Next Months On the Minds of Business Leaders: Expectations for the Next Months

2 Beginning this year, A.T. Kearney is conducting an annual Strategic Operating Environment Scan to convert the aggregate knowledge and judgment of a statistically significant sample of global CXOs into an accessible, anticipatory overview of vital strategic issues. It enables readers to test their current mental models of risk and opportunity and to identify potential blind spots. By including a peer-generated assessment of key opportunities and challenges and the implications for business, the scan supports both foresight and strategic awareness. Opportunities and Challenges: Cost Pressure and Disruptive Competition Top opportunities In the current volatile global economic and policy environment, it is not surprising that executives mention technology and innovation in business models and processes as the overwhelming drivers of strategic opportunities over the next months (see figure ). Unlike uncertain economic outlooks and volatile social conditions in what had been fast-growing emerging markets in recent years, technology represents a strategic lever over which executives can exert more direct control. Specifically, executives regard new technologies as the single most important source of strategic opportunities, and they are seeking to translate technology advances into business model innovation and productivity improvement. Also worth noting is that U.S. economic growth is the 0th highest-ranking opportunity. This is consistent with A.T. Kearney s forward-looking 04 Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) Confidence Index, in which the United States ranked as the top destination for FDI for the second year in a row. These results highlight the intensity of the race to innovate, as upgrading business organizations and streamlining processes provide large-scale opportunities to reduce costs vis-à-vis competitors and identify new sources of growth. Figure Top 0 strategic opportunities Rank Strategic opportunity Business model innovation Breakthrough in energy-efficient technologies Cloud computing Improved access to key markets New marketing technologies Breakthrough in resource technology Big data, predictive analytics Mobile technology Productivity improvements Higher economic growth in the United States Source: A.T. Kearney Strategic Operating Environment Scan 04 See Ready for Takeoff: The 04 A.T. Kearney Foreign Direct Investment Confidence Index at On the Minds of Business Leaders: Expectations for the Next Months

3 Top challenges Over the next months, executives anticipate that the most significant challenges will be tied to core markets and competition issues (see figure ). In particular, rising cost pressure is the preeminent challenge on the mind of business leaders. Increased disruptive threats from new market entrants and emerging technologies combine to make this challenge even more menacing. In addition, the importance respondents placed on policy and regulatory challenges confirms their concern about how government action could negatively affect the business environment. New sources of cost pressure will arise with the shift in economic cycle. The top challenge overall rising cost pressure is driven by a variety of factors that executives believe will overarch the entire strategic environment. These include the risk of higher energy prices, rising commodity price volatility, growing scarcity of talent and skills, and changes in tax policy. While wholesalers and retailers are the most concerned about rising cost pressure a substantial 76 percent of them cite it as a top challenge a majority of executives from almost all industries surveyed share their concern. The strategic focus on cost is not surprising given still-recovering demand in the wake of the Great Recession, the proliferation of innovative new competitors, and ongoing economic volatility. Furthermore, there are several reasons to expect that new sources of cost pressure will arise with the shift in economic cycle. For instance, wage growth has remained artificially low during the early phase of the economic recovery, creating the very real possibility of a discontinuous uptick in some markets should the economy gain momentum. In addition, as extraordinary monetary stimulus measures are withdrawn and interest rates begin to rise, the cost of capital for businesses is also likely to increase. Figure Top 0 strategic challenges Rank Strategic challenge Rising cost pressure Competitive threats from new or nontraditional market entrants Rise in industry concentration Disruptive threats from new technologies Changes in tax policy Reduced market access for multinational corporations Increased policy and regulatory uncertainty Sudden rise in consumer and buyer power Competitive threats from state-owned enterprises Slowdown of global economy Source: A.T. Kearney Strategic Operating Environment Scan 04 On the Minds of Business Leaders: Expectations for the Next Months

4 Potential blind spots Two factors that receive surprisingly little attention from executives are mergers and acquisitions (M&A) opportunities and climate change challenges. Only 5 percent of the business leaders surveyed identify M&A as a key opportunity despite the fact that M&A activity is growing rapidly this year, up percent globally year-to-date from 0. M&A growth has been especially strong in the healthcare sector and in Africa, the Middle East, and Central Asia. The survey results regarding climate change are even more striking. Only 7 percent of executives cite accelerating costs due to climate change as a key challenge over the next months. This may reflect the scan s relatively short time horizon, as many view climate change as a long-term challenge. However, the United Nations estimates that natural disasters, which are becoming more frequent as a result of climate change, have already cost the global economy more than $ trillion in the past two decades a finding consistent with various private sector assessments. This highlights that such costs are already a challenge and could be incorporated into both short-term and long-term strategic business plans. Overall, economic and political volatility appears likely to persist over the next months. As this peer-generated assessment of key opportunities and challenges suggests, executives are responding to this uncertain environment by focusing on strategic opportunities in technology and innovation while dealing with strategic markets and competition challenges. Authors Paul Laudicina, chairman emeritus of A.T. Kearney and chairman of the Global Business Policy Council, Washington, D.C. Erik Peterson, partner and managing director of the Global Business Policy Council, Washington, D.C. Rudolph Lohmeyer, director, Washington, D.C. The authors would like to thank Courtney Rickert McCaffrey for her valuable contributions to this report. About the Global Business Policy Council A.T. Kearney s Global Business Policy Council, established in 99, is dedicated to helping business and government leaders worldwide anticipate and plan for the future. Through strategic advisory services, regular publications, and world-class global meetings, the Council is committed to engaging in thoughtful discussion and analysis of the trends that shape business and government around the globe. League Tables: Deal Map, Financial Times, data as of 6 June 04 Effective Law and Regulation for Disaster Risk Reduction: A Multi-Country Report, International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies and United Nations Development Programme, New York, 04; Natural Catastrophes and Man-Made Disasters in 0, Sigma, no., 04, Swiss Re On the Minds of Business Leaders: Expectations for the Next Months

5 A.T. Kearney is a leading global management consulting firm with offices in more than 40 countries. Since 96, we have been trusted advisors to the world's foremost organizations. A.T. Kearney is a partner-owned firm, committed to helping clients achieve immediate impact and growing advantage on their most mission-critical issues. For more information, visit Americas Atlanta Bogotá Calgary Chicago Dallas Detroit Houston Mexico City New York Palo Alto San Francisco São Paulo Toronto Washington, D.C. Asia Pacific Bangkok Beijing Hong Kong Jakarta Kuala Lumpur Melbourne Mumbai New Delhi Seoul Shanghai Singapore Sydney Tokyo Europe Amsterdam Berlin Brussels Bucharest Budapest Copenhagen Düsseldorf Frankfurt Helsinki Istanbul Kiev Lisbon Ljubljana London Madrid Milan Moscow Munich Oslo Paris Prague Rome Stockholm Stuttgart Vienna Warsaw Zurich Middle East and Africa Abu Dhabi Doha Dubai Johannesburg Manama Riyadh For more information, permission to reprint or translate this work, and all other correspondence, please The signature of our namesake and founder, Andrew Thomas Kearney, on the cover of this document represents our pledge to live the values he instilled in our firm and uphold his commitment to ensuring essential rightness in all that we do. A.T. Kearney Korea LLC is a separate and independent legal entity operating under the A.T. Kearney name in Korea. A.T. Kearney operates in India as A.T. Kearney Limited (Branch Office), a branch office of A.T. Kearney Limited, a company organized under the laws of England and Wales. 04, A.T. Kearney, Inc. All rights reserved.

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