Armonk, N.Y. — May 22
A new IBM study of more than 1,700 CEOs from 64 countries and 18 industries revealed that CEOs are changing the nature of work by adding a powerful dose of openness, transparency and employee empowerment to the command-and-control ethos that has characterized the modern corporation for more than a century.
Companies that outperform their peers are 30 percent more likely to identify openness — often characterized by a greater use of social media as a key enabler of collaboration and innovation — as a key influence on their organization, according to the study.
Outperformers are embracing new models of working that tap into the collective intelligence of an organization and its networks to devise new ideas for increased profitability and growth.
To forge closer connections with customers, partners and a new generation of employees in the future, CEOs will aim to shift their focus from using email and the phone as primary communication vehicles to using social networks as a new path for direct engagement, the study suggests.
Today, only 16 percent of CEOs are using social business platforms to connect with customers, but that number is poised to spike to 57 percent within the next three to five years, the study said. While social media is the least used of all customer interaction methods, it stands to become the No. 2 organizational engagement method within the next five years.
After decades of top-down control, the shift has substantial ramifications not just for the CEOs but for their organizations, managers and employees, as well as for universities and business schools and information technology suppliers.
IBM’s research finds that technology is viewed as a powerful tool to recast organizational structures. More than half of CEOs — 53 percent — are planning to use technology to facilitate greater partnering and collaboration with outside organizations, while 52 percent are shifting their attention to promoting great internal collaboration.
According to the study, CEOs regard interpersonal skills of collaboration (75 percent), communication (67 percent), creativity (61 percent) and flexibility (61 percent) as key drivers of employee success to operate in a more complex, interconnected environment.
The IBM study also found that 71 percent of global CEOs regard technology as the top factor to impact an organization’s future during the next three years — considered to be a bigger change agent than shifting economic and market conditions.
Across all aspects of their organization — from financials to competitors to operations — CEOs are most focused on gaining deeper insights about their customers. Seven out of every 10 CEOs are making significant investments in their organizations’ ability to draw meaningful customer insights from available data.