This is an age of techno-utopianism. Topics like big data, advanced analytics, and artificial intelligence are at the forefront of the CEO agenda, a sign that companies see technology as a potential answer to many or even most of their challenges.
Across industries, companies have been intensifying their focus on cybersecurity. This is a direct consequence of the expanding role that digitization is playing in their business and operating models and the demonstrated potential for significant damage resulting from a successful cyberattack.
For years, companies have used digital supply chain technologies to improve service levels and reduce costs. But the inability to connect disparate systems, provide end-to-end visibility into the supply chain, and crunch massive amounts of data, among other issues, has prevented many companies from achieving the full potential of their supply chains. Now, thanks to the wide availability and adoption of much more powerful digital technologies, including advanced analytics and cloud-based solutions, companies are generating dramatically better returns on their investments.
For many major B2B enterprises, logistics networks have never been more complex. The increasing prevalence of operations that are global - with growing numbers of production sites and clients that could be anywhere on earth - has introduced challenges that didn't exist to the same degree at an earlier time. The good news is that there has also never before been a moment when there were more tools and more opportunities to optimize logistics costs than now.
Emerging markets have driven growth for many multinational corporations (MNCs) for years, and they will continue to do so. But these are turbulent times as commodity prices plunge, currencies are devalued, and equity markets gyrate. The profitability of many MNCs' operations is already under attack, and future performance will be challenged by slower macroeconomic growth, increasing costs, and heightened competition from local companies, which are rapidly gaining scale, experience, and capability. To reduce these pressures, companies will have to focus much more on improving their competitiveness through constant productivity gains.
During the long downturn in R&D productivity, a handful of bio-pharmaceutical companies have consistently bucked the trend. How did they manage it? After all, they have experienced the same industry pressures as their peers - pressures such as lengthier R&D cycle times, higher costs of failure, and sharper regulatory scrutiny.
Managers are increasingly nervous about the lack of progress in their digital initiatives. Too often, organizations merely add digital "pixie dust" to traditional processes or engage in a frenzy of digital experiments and ventures. Rather than drive competitive advantage, these efforts leave companies more vulnerable.
By now, it's conventional wisdom: culture can ultimately break even the most seemingly harmonious corporate match. The list of mergers that have faltered or failed because of culture clash is long. Yet despite the many high-profile cautionary tales, very few companies involved in a post-merger integration deal with the culture question as fully and aggressively as they do with, say, capturing value from cost synergies.
For roughly three decades, China's booming economy has offered consumer product companies some of the world's greatest growth opportunities. China's economic slowdown and jittery markets have raised worries that this growth story is drawing to a close. In early November 2015, for example, the government lowered its official five-year annual GDP growth target to 6.5 percent, the slowest pace since the 2008–2009 global financial crisis.
Innovation continues to rise in importance. In The Boston Consulting Group's tenth annual global survey of the state of innovation, 79 percent of respondents ranked innovation as either the top-most priority or a top-three priority at their company, the highest percentage since we began asking the question in 2005, when 66 percent said innovation was their top or among their three top priorities.