CEOs today are leading their organisations through unchartered territories, and the 2012 IBM CEO Study, Leading through Connections, examines the issues CEOs face and the need for inspirational leadership; customer obsession and leadership teaming across the Executive team.
Over 1700 CEO’s and senior public sector leaders from around the world took part in this survey with the most startling finding, that technology, not the economy, now tops the list of external forces impacting the operating landscape. There is an expectation that technology will be driving the most significant change to operations over the next three to five years. Overall, CEOs identified the massive influx and volumes of data as one of the most important issues influencing their strategic business decisions.
Three imperatives also became evident during this study:
1. Engaging customers as individuals – To effectively engage an individual customer or citizen, organisations must be able to collect and understand data and then interpret that data in a way that will support and enhance the relationships between the two. Stronger analytical capabilities will be needed to uncover patterns of behaviour, and as group, CEOs know that they need to invest in customer insights more than any other functional area. More than 70% of CEOs are seeking a better understanding of customer needs, converting the data about customers into insights and insights into actions.
2. Empowering employees through values – Teams need now, more than ever, the processes and tools that inspire collaboration on a massive scale, empowering them to make a more positive contribution to organisational success. This will require a very strong sense of purpose and shared belief to guide decision making.
3. Amplifying innovation with partnerships-Partnering organisations will need to share data as well as collaborative environments and this means they will need to share control. Relationships will need to significantly change between partners to drive the future forward.

The view that technology is primarily a driver of efficiency is outdated: it’s now an enabler of collaboration and relationships, essential to fuelling creativity and innovation. Technology is reinventing connections with –and among-employees, customers, citizens and partners.

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