What is on the CEOs' agenda in 2023?

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As we progress through 2023, CEOs' agenda will be shaped by five major factors: performance, digital, organisation, supply chain and sustainability.

Business leaders have been driving their organisations forward in the wake of post pandemic disruptions in last three years. Reviving closed operations, keeping up with a volatile economy and transforming existing ways of doing business to suit the changing workforce are just a few challenges that have been on top of the agenda for the CEOs.

As we step into 2023, what will be the top priorities for the CEOs?

Kanvic has identified five major areas which will capture CEOs’ attention in this year:

  • Protecting profits
  • Driving digital transformation
  • Organising for the future
  • Securing supply chains and
  • Striving for sustainability.


Exhibit

Agenda 1: Protecting profits

India`s recovery from the pandemic has been impressive. While the country’s GDP surpassed pre-COVID levels by Q2 2021, companies achieved record profitability driven by sudden demand surge in select sectors coupled with the leaner cost structures in most businesses. However, with the rise in inflation and slowdown in global growth, the profitability situation has reversed in the recent quarters. 

According to CMIE, profit margins of listed companies in India have been declining over the last few quarters in 2022. Net profit margins have declined from a high of 7.6% in March 22 to 5.7% in December 22 for non-financial listed companies. 

The shrinking profits can be attributed to the factors such as high Inflation and a slowing economic growth. According to the IMF, the global economic growth rate will further slow down to 3.8% in 2023 from 4.4% last year and a third of the world`s economy will be in recession. 

In addition, the inflation rates in India have been around 6.8% on average in 2022 which is fairly beyond the tolerance zone of 6%.

Exhibit

Agenda 2: Driving Digital Transformation

Digital became a great saviour for many companies, governments and consumers in the post-pandemic world, with years of growth compressed into a few months. Since then, companies of all sizes have priorities digital to connect with their customers, make work seamless from anywhere and bring efficiency to their operations. 

CEOs, however, understand that digital is an ongoing journey, not a destination. Moreover, with the continuous development of new technologies such as AI, Blockchain, Metaverse and Web3, digital remains a long-term play for the companies.

No wonder more than 95% of Indian organisations have planned to increase their digital transformation spending in 2023. CEOs look forward to reducing costs, improving security, enhancing customer and employee experience, and entering new markets and product innovation from their digital transformation initiatives. 

Agenda 3: Organising for the future

Traditional workplace structure is no longer normative in 2023. The hybrid work model has experienced massive adoption in the last few years and will be a part of the discussions and negotiations for employers this year. Studies suggest that over 92% of Indian employees prefer a hybrid work model.

The massive cultural shift in work patterns will accompany the lingering effects of the great resignation. Though the employee attrition rate in India, which surged to 20.3% in the first half of 2022, has declined recently, companies will still need to organise them for the future of the workplace and changing employee behaviour towards work, especially in millennials and GenZ. 

CEOs will also have to evaluate the effects of Moonlighting at work. While over 43% of the employees in the IT industry find moonlighting favourable, more than 70% of the workforce in other sectors, such as pharmaceuticals, FMCG, and manufacturing, believe it is unethical as it can affect productivity at work. 

Agenda 4: Securing supply chains

Massive disruptions and bottlenecks in global supply chains that took place in the last three years have eased since then, but securing the supply chain remains on the top of the agenda for CEOs. With continuing geopolitical tensions, China’s relaxation in zero COVID policy and uncertainty around global economic growth in 2023, CEOs are making sure their supply chains respond quickly to external changes by moving from just-in-time to just-in-case strategy. 

At the same time, business leaders are making their supply chain more resilient for the long term by friendshoring, nearshoring and onshoring, altering their manufacturing footprint in the process. Finally, technologies such as RFID, digitalisation of interactions and software integration for security drive CEOs’ agenda to secure their supply chains.

Agenda 5: Striving for sustainability

Sustainable business practices regarding the environment, social and governance are no more a burden but a table stake to be present in the market. As a result, ESG assumes critical importance in the boardrooms, requiring businesses to have a long-term strategy. 

While on the regulatory side, SEBI has mandated the top 1000 companies by market cap to report on their sustainability agenda in a newly designed BSSR report, companies also clearly believe being green is good. 

A study by Oxford Economics has revealed that Indian businesses recognise the value of sustainability, with 62% of companies noting it’s possible to be sustainable and profitable simultaneously.

As a result, CEOs will squarely focus on increasing their spending to reach their sustainability commitments in 2023 by evaluating their operations to make them more circular and cutting down on waste. 


About the authors

Deepak Sharma is Cofounder and Director at Kanvic Consulting where Shiv Sharma is a Principal. We would like to thank Abhyudya Bhatnagar and Dimpy Goyal for their contribution to this blog.

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