Competition, Globalization, Retaining Talent Keep Global Executives Awake at Night

Jan. 28, 2008
Companies found that pace of globalization has increased greatly over the past year.

An Accenture survey of 850 C-suite executives in the U.S., United Kingdom, Italy, France, Germany, Spain, Japan and China released at Davos last week, found that executives are concerned about competition, the health of the global economy and attracting and retaining the best talent. The survey found that the pace of globalization has increased over the past year. Executives reported that their companies' global reach has grown in terms of the suppliers they use, their own employees, their office locations and their customers.

According to the findings, executives perceive the top five threats to business success as competition (cited by 73% of executives), the health of the global economy and the inability to attract and retain the best talent (67% each), company reputation (62%) and the inability to develop new products and services (51%).

These same issues topped the list of threats cited in a similar survey that Accenture conducted in 2005. The one issue that has increased in importance, however, is that of talent, which was cited by 60% of executives in 2005 and rose to 67% in the new survey.

"In today's multi-polar world -- where economic power is distributed among multiple centers of economic and business activity -- the war for talent has gone global," said Mark Foster, Accenture's group chief executive, Management Consulting & Integrated Markets. "Additionally, new technologies are transforming the nature of work, the skills demanded, the manner in which work is sourced globally and the ways in which people collaborate. Leading organizations must build capabilities to understand and source talent more strategically, based on clear definitions of skills gaps and needs for the future."

Globalization is raising a number of concerns among the executives surveyed with more than half (56%) reporting that they are concerned about the impact of the global economy on business. Respondents also expressed concerns about their ability to maintain a common corporate culture (cited by 54%), as well as service remote customers effectively and understand local ways of doing business (52% each). One in five (21%) said their organizations are not adequately equipped to succeed as global enterprises.

"Rapid global business expansion presents significant management challenges and opportunities," said Foster. "As companies expand and enter these new markets, their success will depend on streamlining their global operations and differentiating their products and services. At the same time, senior management must maintain and strengthen their companies' core values and corporate identity, as well as secure a diverse and highly collaborative leadership team with knowledge that spans disparate markets."

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