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Optimism prevails among senior execs despite uncertainty

Two-thirds – 67 per cent – of private company executives are optimistic that their revenue, profits, productivity and capital investments will rise in the coming year, while 89 per cent are confident their companies will be successful during the next 24 months. Just under half – 45 per cent – also expect to hire more full-time employees, although many – 53 per cent – perceive a greater level of uncertainty around their future business prospects.

Economic alignment for first time in decade

Deloitte's Mark Whitmore commented: “The optimism of private companies worldwide reflects an economic alignment taking hold for the first time in years. In the face of increased uncertainty, private companies seem to be leveraging their inherent agility to gain a competitive edge.”

The report, Global perspectives for private companies: Plans, priorities, and expectations, surveyed about 1,900 executives in 30 countries. And despite a perceived greater level of uncertainty around future business prospects, only 2 per cent of respondents globally said they are not at all confident that their company will be successful over the coming two years, which could suggest that private company executives tend to be a very positive and optimistic group of people. However, it could also reflect that executives tend to look at a range of factors when gauging their own business outlook and the current environment offers a various potential change-influencers, from developing technology to shifting political scenarios (some of which could favour business, such as lower corporate tax in the US).

Interconnected and international

Two of Deloitte's experts, Robert Rosone and Roger Nanney, wrote in an article accompanying the report: “While this outlook is buoyed by growth across the world’s major economies, it’s not purely a function of the business cycle. Private companies are both increasingly interconnected and international, and less exposed to single markets for their performance. In fact, even as 53 per cent of executives told us uncertainty was increasing, they are optimistic and plowing ahead. Private companies are investing in new technologies and talent, banking on their agility as conditions change to stay ahead of their competitors.”

Investment in technology

The survey's respondents expected some significant impact on their business from technology trends including: cyber intelligence, analytics, cloud infrastructure, mobile devices and big data. The main investment priorities of those surveyed were: cloud computing/software as a service, and customer relationship management, closely followed by data analytics/business intelligence and automation of business processes.

One of the factors that the report highlights as contributing to a buoyant business outlook is that, for the first time in a decade, the major economies of the world are “moving as one”, with economic growth across all 45 countries tracked by the OECD.  

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