Tuesday 15 October 2019

Irish CEOs 'buying firms to help boost key digital skills'

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John Mulligan

John Mulligan

Almost 40pc of chief executives in Ireland look to buy firms just to access and develop digital capabilities, according to a survey from KPMG.

The Global CEO Outlook from the firm also shows that company bosses here increasingly want their employees to feel empowered to innovate and try new things without being concerned about any possible negative fallout.

Of the CEOs surveyed in Ireland, 82pc claimed to have adopted the approach, compared to 84pc globally.

"Business leaders are encouraging their teams to try new things and experiment, where success isn't guaranteed," said KPMG managing partner Seamus Hand.

And with Ireland more or less now at full employment, the survey has also confirmed a growing challenge for companies here in finding staff.

Ryanair CEO Michael O'Leary noted last week that it had a higher turnover of some staff such as those involved in financial functions, where competition for such talent is stiff.

KMPG found that two-thirds of the chief executives in Ireland that it surveyed agreed that it would be challenging to find the talent they need. That compares to 59pc across the world.

"A successful CEO is an agile CEO," said Mr Hand. "Succeeding in a world of volatility and uncertainty requires different leadership skills. Many CEOs are hiring now to help future-proof the tech and talent needs of their organisation."

A separate analysis released today by PwC found that 84pc of financial services chief executives are concerned about the availability of key skills.

Although the majority - 61pc - of the financial services firms here intend to increase their headcount in the coming year, 70pc of them said it had become more difficult to hire people.

The same percentage of CEOs in the sector said that a people shortage is driving up costs, holding back innovation and growth targets.

Bosses in the financial services sector also believe that the government should have a national artificial intelligence (AI) strategy, given its increasing importance.

Just over a third of the CEOs surveyed in Ireland have no plans to pursue any AI initiatives. And 54pc of them think AI will displace more jobs than it creates in the long-run.

The PwC survey also found that only 25pc of the financial services CEOs who responded to its survey are planning to collaborate with entrepreneurs or startups in order to help drive revenue growth.

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