IBM Can Shed Light on Your Boss' Thinking About Future of Enterprise

Dennis Byron

IBM has now circulated the detail on the "Global CEO Study" that it publicized in early May. It is the third edition of a biennial series based on surveys of 1,130 CEOs, general managers and senior public sector and business leaders in 40 countries.


"IBM leaders" conducted more than 95 percent of these interviews "face to face," which is good news/bad news from a research perspective: the "face-to-face" aspect is the good news (as compared to many surveys THAT are Web based and opt-in), but the fact that "IBM leaders" rather than trained market-research professionals conducted the interviews might have skewed the results. The document is 80 pages long and available from IBM by simply giving them your name and phone number (as if it didn't already have it).


IBM said its goal was

"... to understand differences between the responses of financial outperformers and those of underperformers. For companies with publicly available financial information, we compared revenue and profit track records with the averages for those in the same industry across our sample. Companies that performed above average on a particular financial benchmark were tagged as outperformers, and those below the average were labeled as underperformers. Throughout our analyses, we looked for insights based on these top- and bottom-half groupings."

So here are some of the more interesting things that your bosses think:

  • 80 percent of executives said their organizations face substantial or very substantial change over the next three years, up from 66 percent in 2006. Unfortunately only 60 percent of the executives feel their organizations are ready for change, the same as in 2006. The delta between 60 percent and 80 percent is what IBM dubs a "change gap." That gap is twice as wide for underperformers as defined above. The message for IT folks: Assume your boss is worried about change (i.e., is not the one in five who is not) or ask him straight out!
  • CEOs will devote more than one-quarter of their total annual investments to capture rising prosperity opportunities. It does not bother them that they cannot control the message as much as they used to and are happy to have well-informed collaborative customers. Overperformers are almost three times as likely to take this position. The message for IT folks: IT projects that support such initiatives have the best chance of being funded.
  • More than half will partner extensively to achieve their goals. Overperformers are 20 percent more likely to partner. Partnering and other tactics to handle change will be globally focused, even the underperformers agree. The message for IT folks: The promise of e-commerce and supply-chain management that we analysts talked about 10 years ago are starting to happen right on schedule (although we analysts didn't tell you the schedule back then or no one would have bought our research).
  • Nearly all are changing business models to adapt to change, with 66 percent changing them extensively. Memo to IT folks: You already knew that!

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