Continuous reinvention becoming the norm for CEOs

Key findings from PwC’s 27th CEO Survey

The urgency among CEOs worldwide to reinvent their companies is increasing. They expect the factors that have led to changes in recent years, such as technological developments and changing consumer preferences, to have an even stronger impact in the coming years. A large number of CEOs have doubts about the long-term viability of their business model if changes are not made.

Read the key findings per industry

Dutch CEOs perceive government regulations as one of the biggest drivers for change. This is also a point of concern for the business climate: regulation is a factor that plays a role for some CEOs in considering whether or not to relocate operational activities abroad.

These are some of the key findings from PwC's 27th CEO Survey, an annual deep dive into the vision of CEOs about the economy, their own companies and the environment in which they operate. The survey attracted responses from 4,702 CEOs worldwide, 73 of whom were from the Netherlands.

CEOs on course

In our new video and podcast series 'CEOs on course', financial journalist Paul Laseur has candid conversations with Dutch CEOs. On the way to a desired destination, he talks to them about their vision and challenges. Are you riding along?

Results of the CEO Survey per theme

CEOs perceive urgent need for change

A significant proportion of CEOs worldwide doubt whether their companies will be still economically viable in ten years’ time if they continue on their current path. This was one of the key findings of PwC's 27th CEO Survey, with respondents seeing an urgent need to continuously reinvent.

Read more about transformation

CEOs see both major opportunities and risks in GenAI

The results of PwC's 27th CEO Survey show that only a minority of CEOs have implemented generative AI (such as ChatGPT) within their companies over the past year. However, a large majority expect this form of artificial intelligence to have a significant impact on how their company operates and earns money. This anticipated impact of AI applies to both opportunities and risks.

Read more about GenAI

Climate actions is ‘work in progress’ for CEOs

According to PwC's 27th CEO Survey, the vast majority of CEOs have taken actions to become more energy efficient. About half of them are also working on developing climate-friendly products and services. However, a significant portion of CEOs have no plans for other climate actions.

Read more about climate

The pressure to reinvent is intensifying

‘The fact that the pressure to reinvent is significant is evidenced by the doubts of CEOs about the viability of their business model,’ says CEO Agnes Koops-Aukes of PwC Netherlands. ‘Globally, 45 percent of business leaders believe that their company will no longer exist in ten years if it continues on the same course. This figure was 39 percent a year ago.’

CEOs also expect the pressure to increase in relation to factors that influence their business model. In other words, they estimate that the drivers forcing change will be even stronger in the next three years than in recent years. Dutch CEOs expect the influence of government regulations to be equally as important as that of technological change.

Agnes Koops-Aukes: ‘Technological changes, new regulations and evolving customer preferences force CEOs to make adjustments to their business model. Changes in the business model also have an impact on operations, the supporting technology, and the necessary skills. This requires playing multiple games of chess at the same time. It is a huge challenge and demands a lot from CEOs, who ultimately have control over all the chessboards.’

To what extent do the following factors drive changes to the way your company creates, delivers and captures value? (only to a large and very large extent)

Global results

Dutch results

CEOs feels less vulnerable to the same threats

As was the case in last year’s survey, CEOs consider inflation and macroeconomic volatility as the greatest threats in the short term. The degree of risk from these threats is, however, estimated to be much lower than before. This also applies to other factors that potentially threaten the revenue and profitability of companies.

In the Netherlands, the contrast between 2023 and 2024 is even greater. CEOs in the Netherlands feel far less vulnerable to geopolitical conflicts while perceiving the threat of climate change as being stronger than last year.

CEO Agnes Koops-Aukes of PwC Netherlands: 'At the time of last year’s survey everyone was confronted with soaring inflation and energy prices. These problems were very acute back then and the pressure was on the short term. Now the pressure is clearly moving towards the longer term.’

How exposed will your company be to the following key threats in the next twelve months? (only highly and extremely exposed)

Global results

Dutch results

Regulation is a sore point in the business climate

The Dutch results of the CEO Survey show that a high regulatory burden is a matter of concern. Some 55 percent of Dutch CEOs consider regulation as a factor that will have a significant impact on changes to their company in the coming years. The worldwide figure is 47 percent. Dutch CEOs, like their global counterparts, also see regulation as the greatest obstacle to change.

The results of a question that was only asked to Dutch CEOs about the business climate also show that regulation in general, and tax regulation in particular, is a matter of concern. While 60 percent of CEOs are not planning to relocate operational activities abroad, a significant proportion of those who say they might, cite regulation as a factor in their decision.

Agnes Koops-Aukes sees this as a signal to the political parties currently negotiating the formation of a new government in the Netherlands. 'Especially in a turbulent, uncertain world, legislation can also provide direction. Although CEOs are therefore not automatically against new regulations, they do expect them to be of good quality, consistent, predictable, and in line with international regulations in order to maintain a level playing field. Any incoming government should be aware that the Dutch business climate is showing cracks and be open to signals from the business community. On the other hand, companies must behave as "good citizens" in order to gain political and public support for their views and concerns.'

Which of the following factors, if applicable, could influence you in your decision to move operational activities outside the Netherlands?

Dutch results

The pessimism about economic growth has turned into a varied picture

CEOs were very pessimistic about the economic outlook a year ago, which was related to the very high inflation and energy prices at that time. The picture is now more varied, although more CEOs still expect a decline than an increase. According to PwC's chief economist Barbara Baarsma, this is not surprising. 'The world has not changed much in the meantime and is still very uncertain. Half of the world's population will go to the polls for national elections in the coming year, and the outcomes can have a major influence on geopolitical relations in the world and thus on international trade flows.

‘There is also upward pressure on costs in various areas such as energy, labour, raw materials, environmental levies and space. The costs of major societal transitions will therefore also be higher. It is important that CEOs have a realistic view of this, without losing the courage to make a significant contribution. The survey shows that CEOs can save costs by reducing inefficiencies in their operations. They themselves estimate this to be 40 percent, so there is quite a lot to be gained there.'

How do you think global economic growth will change over the next twelve months?

Global results

PwC's 27th CEO Survey

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Agnes Koops-Aukes

Agnes Koops-Aukes

Voorzitter raad van bestuur, PwC Netherlands

Barbara Baarsma

Barbara Baarsma

Hoofdeconoom, PwC Netherlands

Tel: +31 (0)62 420 47 07