After 2020, most optimistic CEOs would probably have hoped things would settle by 2023. That's not happened, but there are ways to address the challenges we're facing.
CEO challenges are many and varied, but what are the top issues for 2023? We recently asked a pool of 112 CEOs on our database what will keep them awake at night during 2023.
Staff hiring and retention
The most significant concern by far, at almost 43%, is finding and retaining a great workforce.
Job vacancies in the Information and Communication sector have tripled from approximately 13,000 to over 79,000 since 2019 (Source ONS). According to new national research from Virgin Media O2 Business and Censuswide, 55% of UK private and public sector workers are aware of their employer's digital skills shortage.
These factors combined inevitably lead to high employee turnover, with talent very aware of their value and growing nationwide demand for outstanding technical expertise.
Supplier price increases & reduced customer demand
Price increases are the greatest concern for 18.8% of survey responders. Add staffing costs and rising interest rates, and you guarantee a corresponding and necessary increase in your own pricing.
And that, coupled with a looming recession, contributed to the second largest area of concern, reduced customer demand, considered to be the greatest worry for 27.7% of those who responded to our survey.
Digital change & security
In the face of the pressures above, how does any business make the investments necessary to take advantage of the genuine benefits of technological advances? How do they budget accurately to build their defences against cyber-attack?
10.7% of CEO's are primarily concerned with keeping up with digital change and security measures. Reputation, customer confidence, downtime, ransom and litigation are all at risk when a cybersecurity breach occurs.
39% of UK businesses were subject to at least one cyber-attack that they knew about last year. 20% of these businesses directly lost funds or data. Over 35% experienced some form of impact. That included making provision for tighter security, diverting staff from other tasks, repair and recovery costs, loss of goods or services, loss of reputation, revenue or share value, customer complaints and compensation, fines, legal costs and payment of ransom. For businesses that report a material outcome, nearly 40% took over 24hrs to recover, 8% took up to a week.*
How can I prepare for 2023's upcoming challenges?
The upcoming year will require CEOs and Managing Directors (MDs) to take a strategic and proactive approach to management.
Review and adjust the company cost structure
Review the company's expenses and identify areas where it can reduce costs while maintaining its ability to serve its customers and compete in the marketplace. Is it more cost-effective for you to outsource aspects of your business? Accountancy, marketing and IT are all commonly outsourced to access depth and breadth of expertise for less than hiring and retaining your team.
Plan for digital transformation
Review your organisation's digital capabilities to quickly adapt to changes in the market and become more efficient. Many non-technical senior management assume the current technology is fine, as it has been fine for the previous years. Is your data secure from advanced threats? Are employees manually completing tasks that could be automated?
Without expert advice, many businesses are losing the productivity and efficiency of their workforce from this overlooked factor. A digital transformation may well be due. Many Managed Service Providers (MSPs) offer this service.
Communicate with employees, shareholders, and other stakeholders
Clear and open communication is essential during a recession. CEOs should be transparent with employees and shareholders about the company's financial performance and the steps that are being taken to address any challenges.
Ensure you have prepared
How are your cash reserves? Would you be able to survive a recession? Does your cybersecurity provide an adequate level of protection for the level of your digital assets? Would you be able to recover from a breach? Has your CFO considered these potential downturns for your budget? Have you considered these with your 2023 strategic plan?
Keep in mind, that these are general steps, and your company's specific situation might require a different approach. Having a plan in place and continually monitoring and adjusting it as needed is essential. Consulting with financial, technological and strategic experts is often recommended to prepare for a potential recession.
Need advice on your current use of technology and IT infrastructure? You're welcome to book an appointment.
*Figures sourced from Gov.UK Cyber Security Breaches Survey 2022