At a time when the second Covid wave is threatening to upend economic activity again, a recent India Inc poll has revealed that chief executive officers (CEOs) in India are confident about growing their businesses in the current financial year.
The annual CEO survey conducted by PwC on Wednesday shows that 70 per cent of the 60 Indian CEOs are confident about clocking revenue growth in 2021-22. The report follows the International Monetary Fund’s (IMF’s) growth projections for India.
The IMF’s January 2021 World Economic Outlook projected India’s economy to grow 11.5 per cent in 2021, making it the only major economy with a double-digit growth forecast, said PwC.At least 88 per cent CEOs expect global economy to improve in 12 months.
According to Fitch Ratings, global gross domestic product declined 3.4 per cent in 2020. The Covid-19 pandemic remains the foremost threat to growth, according to the CEOs.
Seven out of 10 consider the pandemic as the uppermost threat to growth. As many as 53 per cent CEOs said uncertain economic growth is among the top threats to their companies.
Cyberattacks was the second biggest threat to growth. At least 62 per cent CEOs consider cyberattacks as a major challenge. “The thought of losing my customers’ money to theft is what keeps me up at night. So, while Covid has brought about a significant increase in digital adoption and transactions, it has also increased the risks associated with digital”, said Uday Kotak, managing director and CEO, Kotak Mahindra Bank. The need for operational resilience is speeding up Cloud adoption, expanding the chance of cyberattacks for corporations.
Cyber-risk has become boardroom agenda, with 52 per cent Indian CEOs having factored it into their strategic risk management, alongside speed of technological change, availability of key skills, and changing consumer behaviour, said PwC.
CEOs said digital transformation is integral to build ‘fit-for-future organisations’ and driving business growth.
Large technology-led transformation projects are being undertaken to propel automation and digitalisation in key business areas. This, in turn, demands digital upskilling of the workforce to steer the ‘future of work’ that at times may be antithetical to leadership decisions.
The survey found 93 per cent Indian CEOs willing to invest more in digital transformation in nearly all the sectors: manufacturing, retail and consumer, financial services, education, and health care.
Eighty-eight per cent would like to simultaneously focus on digitising their risk management functions and build a cyber-resilient infrastructure that supports growth. According to them, focusing on productivity, automation, and technology will be key to sustain business growth in the new post-Covid world.
Forty-two per cent CEOs are now focusing on productivity through automation and technology as a workforce strategy to make the greatest impact on their organisation’s competitiveness, while 35 per cent are focused on health and well-being of the workforce.
A majority of CEOs sees the US (52 per cent) as its largest export-growth market. For Indian CEOs, the top territories of growth after the US are the UK (25 per cent), China (15 per cent), Bangladesh (12 per cent), Germany (12 per cent), and the UAE (12 per cent). It believes the strong economic performance of the US – on the back of a large stimulus and less disruptive decision-making — will provide additional boost to the exporting companies.
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