UAE CEOs see disruption as a major catalyst for growth and remain increasingly focused on exploiting these disruptors to drive business strategy, the 2017 KPMG CEO Outlook Survey has found. The survey that polled over 1,200 CEOs across the globe (including the GCC) has found that almost two-thirds of UAE CEOs expect some form of disruption to impact their sector in the next three years. This includes challenges arising from global economic uncertainties, the introduction of a new tax regime in the region and geopolitical issues.
Yet, CEOs largely perceive these challenges as opportunities rather than threats, with 88 percent of UAE CEOs confident in the growth prospects of their own industry over the next three years. This sentiment was mirrored by CEOs across the GCC, with 92 percent of them expressing similar levels of confidence towards the growth of their respective industries over the next three years.
The report also found that 84 percent of UAE CEOs intend to invest heavily in data analytics tools and robotic process automation, followed by cognitive technologies and automation to respond to the above-mentioned disruptions.
Vijay Malhotra, Chairman and CEO, KPMG UAE and Oman said, “UAE CEOs are among some of the most dynamic in the world and it is very clear that while they face new challenges and uncertainties, they remain determined to drive growth. Despite lower oil prices, a new tax regime and geopolitical issues, the optimism shown by CEOs reflects a growing maturity and confidence in CEOs’ and their organizations’ ability to adjust to a new reality and develop other non-oil driven sources of business.”
Innovation is seen as a high priority for CEOs in the UAE, with nine out of ten indicating it is an area for strong investment. In fact, 84 percent of UAE CEOs believe that risk can prompt innovation in certain products and services- giving much greater priority to investment in innovation than their global counterparts.
A number of UAE CEOs also indicated that they were expecting to grow organically, with 64 per cent planning to scale up their current business operations and processes.
Technology and cyber security were other central themes covered in this survey. UAE CEOs were found to be more positively disposed to embracing technology than their global peers, with 92 per cent of UAE CEOs expected to make at least an incremental investment in innovation. This would include investments in new products and services and more effective ways of doing business.
Displaying a genuine thirst for learning, CEOs said they were assigning greater focus to expanding their own skills with 64 per cent affirming that they had pursued new skills and/or some form of training in the last 12 months. An equal proportion of UAE CEOs also highlighted the importance of improving one’s emotional intelligence as well as technical skills.
Vikas Papriwal, Head – Markets, KPMG UAE & Oman added, “When we look at the general picture, it is evident that CEOs are convinced of their abilities to move their organizations to bigger and better places. We all know that organizations are facing technological and macroeconomic challenges. However, the results of our survey show that CEOs in the UAE are optimistic, resilient and flexible in their approaches to finding ways to push ahead and grow their businesses in both traditional and non-traditional ways- a sentiment similar to what their GCC counterparts have expressed.”