Dec. 20, 2018 | InBrief

The 7 most interesting things business leaders told us in 2018

The 7 most interesting things business leaders told us in 2018

As the head of content marketing at West Monroe, I have the privilege of leading our Signature Research with the leading experts at our firm. We do a lot of market research around here – a lot – to understand the business issues we’re helping to address in the market. Then we share the results with you, our readers, to help make sense of the changing conditions around you (and often, what to do about them). Some of the survey results come in as expected, confirming hypotheses and market trends. Others, however, surprise us. In all the content we published from proprietary research this year, and the media interviews we conducted to discuss the results, certain statistics stand out as the most insightful and useful. And instead of making you dig for them, I listed the top in this blog post. (You’re welcome!)

96% say cybersecurity keeps them up at night, but 70% say they feel comfortable with their preparedness for an attack

The fact that 70% are satisfied with their preparedness for an event is baffling. Most organizations we walk into are relatively (and sometimes completely) unprepared for an attack. We have outlined what it takes to pull off a successful cyber response drill, an event that exposes gaps in an organization’s cybersecurity strategy. But more importantly business leaders need to ask themselves, if they’re so comfortable with their preparedness, why aren’t they sleeping well at night? Our perspective: They’re focusing too much on the technology and not enough on the people and process sides of the equation. READ: Technology is Transforming Everything

One-third do not gather employee feedback

At West Monroe, this is a foreign concept: Employee feedback is the lifeblood of our enduring and resilient culture. But a focus on the employee experience is only starting to come into full light for many of the clients we work with. In 2018, we noticed a lot of them turning their focus inward toward employee experience, as they’re finding it essential to improving their external (customer) experience. Good news, but a fundamental starting place for them is gathering employee feedback—and that one-third stat needs to change. READ: Winning in the Marketplace Starts with Winning in the Workplace

About half (48%) don’t consider their data a strategic asset

It’s difficult to hear of companies undervaluing their data this way. But, not having the right tools and processes in place to leverage the data is often the root cause of this feeling—not the data itself. In the same survey of 300 business and tech leaders, only 38% said they get predictive reports while 73% get reports analyzing past data. “Reports that explain what happened yesterday are table stakes for businesses today,” explained Greg Layok, West Monroe’s technology leader. “Embracing predictive modeling and learning algorithms to optimize business results are required to use your data to drive competitive differentiation.” READ: Technology is Transforming Everything

78% of healthcare dealmakers are considering alliances and joint ventures over pure M&A in the next 12 to 18 months

In case you lived under a rock in 2018, healthcare M&A dominated the headlines. (West Monroe experts alone commented in over 100 media stories on the topic.) Amid the avalanche of consolidation and vertical integration, a large majority of healthcare dealmakers we surveyed say they are likely to consider joint ventures or alliances as an alternative, or at least an accelerator, in the next 12 to 18 months. Perhaps they’ll do both—but this surprising response speaks to the pace of change in healthcare and how traditional M&A may not fetch the value needed by those who are looking to adapt quickly. (For a primer on this meaty subject, read this article by M&A Director Brad Haller.) READ: Reshaping Healthcare M&A

Business leaders want to employ technologists with soft skills—but 42% provide no soft skills training for tech employees

This is arguably the biggest (and hairiest) issue of 2018: Business leaders want their technologist peers to lead with them, but companies are not prioritizing leadership skills when hiring tech employees, nor are they providing sufficient professional development once hired. Surprising? Actually, yeah. Why would you expect something to happen just because you want or need it to, and not invest to make it happen? Companies need to address this paradox head-on in 2019, and acutely. As West Monroe CEO Kevin McCarty put it, “Companies seek better infrastructure, more agile business models, and actionable data that drives customer engagement—but they need technology leadership to get there.” READ: Closing the Technology Leadership Gap

4 in 10 don’t think their organization’s digital vision is clear, widely understood or guides strategic decisions

This speaks to the confusion “digital” can bring to an organization: Who owns it? Should it be a strategic initiative? What does a digital strategy mean? We encounter that confusion every day with clients. But we were surprised to learn that organizations with a documented digital vision are also experiencing this confusion—and 40%. Our perspective is that a lot of this has to do with change management, and that change needs to be the first mile of digital transformation. That’s what these 40% need (and likely some of the remaining 60% too). READ: Learn from Digitally Mature Companies to Grow Revenue and Profits

59% of managers are spending 3-plus hours on administrative tasks every day

Wow. That’s a lot of wasted talent. When we surveyed 500 managers in Q1 2018, this was the most shocking result. As a result of this misprioritized brainpower, surveyed managers said they don’t have time to provide adequate feedback and direction to their teams—you know, managing—and nearly half frequently feel overwhelmed at work. This is an employee engagement issue. This is a lost productivity issue. And it is, in part, a matter of not having the right technology and tools to do their job efficiently. West Monroe’s plea in 2019: Give time and sanity back to your managers; you’ll breathe new life into your organization. READ: Companies Are Overlooking a Primary Area for Growth and Efficiency   These stats are just the tip of the iceberg. Read more of West Monroe’s Signature Research from 2018 and or sign up to receive our content. If you could ask business leaders anything in 2019, what would it be?

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