Thought leadership

As part of a comprehensive global survey of forward-looking business leadership, IBM spoke to 1,700 CEOs from 60 countries, in 18 industry sectors, and found two somewhat surprisingly impactful conclusions about the future of social.

The first is that social media engagement with customers will soon be more important than face-to-face interaction. The second, as a result, CEOs aim to significantly escalate their level of social media engagement with customers over the next five years.

This survey though comes with a big BUT. While CEOs see the power of social engagement, they are less bullish on social media’s influence on customer decisions. Specifically, 45% of CEOs polled said social media was one of the three most important customer channels now, but only 10% said it would be in 3-5 years time.

The IBM study drills down further into where CEOs in the UK and Ireland feel lie the potential and obstacles in their business as we shift to a more social world. The upshot? UK and Ireland companies need a better understanding of their customers to help forge closer connections and stronger relationships.

  • UK and Ireland CEOs see customer relationships and human capital as the most important drivers of sustained business success (63% said these factors were key drivers of sustained economic value)

  • Customers are seen as the most important part of businesses to invest in understanding better according to 75% of UK and Ireland CEOs

On innovation and partnership working as an essential source of development and growth:

  • For the first time, UK and Ireland CEOs identify technology as the most important external force impacting their organisations – even more than shifting economic and market conditions (76% said technology was one of the most important factors, against 63% for macroeconomic factors)

  • UK and Ireland CEOs value business partnerships more than their global peers; 47% rate business partnership networks as an important source of economic value compared to the global average of 28%

  • 84% of UK and Ireland CEOs plan extensive external partnerships over the next five years vs. a figure of 69% globally


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