CEOs’ curbed confidence spells caution

22nd Global CEO survey

This year’s survey drills down on three top-of-mind areas: growth, data & analytics and artificial intelligence (AI).

CEOs represent a true crystal ball

When it comes to global economic growth, it seems CEOs know quite a lot about the future. CEO survey responses over the past decade reveal a strong correlation between chief executives’ expectations for their own organisation’s revenue growth and actual global gross domestic product (GDP) growth the following year.  In other words, CEOs’ revenue confidence is a leading indicator of the direction of the global economy.

Last year, we saw a record jump in optimism regarding global growth prospects in 2018. This year, we move more toward pessimism; 45% of Belgian CEOs predict a decline in global GDP growth. However, more than three-quarters (76%) are confident about the growth prospects for their own firm over the coming 12 months.


What keeps Belgian CEOs up at night?

While each region cites a different number one threat to organisational growth prospects, there’s broad consistency in what keeps CEOs up at night around the world from an economic, social and environmental viewpoint.

Policy uncertainty is among the ten most ‘extreme concerns’ in every region, ranking third in Belgium (26%), following over-regulation (43%) and protectionism (31%). With regards potential business threats, availability of key skills (48%) tops the list of extreme concerns in Belgium, followed by cyber threats (29%) and speed of technological change (26%).

Mind the information and skills gap!

Survey results indicate that organisations are struggling to corral data into useable and actionable intelligence, and the main reason for the frustration of CEOs in Belgium is poor data reliability (58%), followed by data siloing (48%) and lack of analytical talent (45%).

Without clean, relevant and integrated data, organisations are stymied in their efforts to move aggressively on AI.


The next big thing? AI

Seventy-four percent of CEOs in Belgium agree that AI will significantly change the way they do business in the next five years. AI’s big. Indeed, close to two-thirds (60%) of Belgian CEOs see it as having a bigger impact than the Internet. Yet, more than a third (36%) have no plans to pursue AI at the moment.

A further 30% have plans in the next three years. And another 33% have only dipped a toe into AI for limited uses. In Belgium, not one CEO reported having implemented AI on a wide scale.


Contact us

Axel Smits

Axel Smits

Chairman & Territory Senior Partner, PwC Belgium

Tel: +32 490 65 88 94

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