CEOs Skittish About 2012, Gartner Says

Researcher’s executive survey shows CEOs expect an economic downturn in 2012, face challenges balancing growth and costs.

Nearly nine in 10 chief executives worldwide believe that their organization’s growth will be stalled by an economic downturn in 2012, according to a Gartner Inc. survey of 220 CEOs commanding organizations of at least $500 million in annual sales in 25 countries.

The study, which Gartner refers to as the "Year of Living Hesitantly," was conducted in November and December, 2011. The researcher said that the data reveals serious CEO concerns over a halting economy in 2012, particularly among participants in Europe and Africa but also prominent among respondents in North America and Asia Pacific.

While growth, particularly through geographic expansion is a top priority for CEOs, controlling costs is a close second, Gartner said.

“Costs are now the second biggest priority area, the highest ranking in our surveys since 2009,” said Mark Raskino, Gartner vice president and fellow.

“Yet, CEOs seem determined to maintain a growth posture as the No. 1 priority for now, and geographic expansion is the primary growth approach,” he said.

Despite flagging confidence concerning the global economy, two-thirds of CEOs in Gartner’s study said that they plan to increase information technology (IT) investments in 2012, driven largely by newer technologies such as mobile and cloud computing.

“The intention to invest in technology is comparatively healthy,” said Jorge Lopez, Gartner vice president and distinguished. “The newer trends, such as mobile and cloud, are rising to the foreground of CEO’s attention.

Lopez said that Customer Relationship Management (CRM) technology remains the favorite of many CEOs, “because marketing is a never-ending competitive quest for customer retention.”

Gartner said that companies find investing in newer technologies to produce better strategic outcomes difficult. Many organizations, stung by ill-managed IT investments in the last 10 years, now realize that to be effective technology innovation must be “carefully directed and delivered in conjunction with coordinated changes to policies, processes, organization, roles and culture,” Gartner said.

TAGS: economy,Gartner,CEO

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