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Digital transformation remains top challenge facing 1 in 5 UK CEOs 


Although businesses are investing heavily in digital, ECI’s Growth Characteristics report reveals that 1 in 5 UK CEOs see their digitisation journey as their biggest challenge. The fact that a similar proportion, 22%, cited it as a key challenge in 2021 suggests that further support is needed to truly digitally transform UK businesses.  

Despite this challenge, almost all (99%) of the CEOs interviewed are feeling excited about the future of their business. It is positive to see businesses have successfully adapted to the post-Covid world. Only 5% of CEOs stated that they were still struggling to design the future of work in comparison to 24% last year (the future of work was the number one challenge in 2021). 

Chris Watt, Managing Partner at ECI Partners said:  

“Digital transformation remains right at the top of the agenda for UK CEOs and we expect more focus on digital going into 2023 as businesses look to drive efficiencies and boost productivity. It’s heartening to see that business leaders remain optimistic and excited about the future, despite market challenges. Good businesses can thrive in all conditions and we are confident that we will see high-growth companies exceeding expectations next year as they continue to grow and invest in their businesses.”  

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People-related challenges are a high priority for almost half of UK CEOs, with challenges listed including keeping their team happy (17%), maintaining a high-performance culture (cited by 15% of CEOs vs 7% last year) and finding the best talent (14%). 

The report has also shown that even fast-moving technology and retail sectors are struggling the most with digital transformation.  1 in 3 retail CEOs (31%) say digital transformation is their biggest challenge while 1 in 6 tech CEOs (17%) share the same view. 

Other key findings of the Growth Characteristics research include: 

  • The most in-demand hire in 2022 is a Chief Information Security Officer (37%), but Chief Financial Officers (36%) and Chief Technology Officers (31%) are also in the top four roles that leaders are looking to hire 
  • The top three traits that CEOs seek for from their leadership team are inspirational (21%), loyalty (21%) and adaptability (20%) 
  • CEOs stated that open and honest communication (24%), having a strong social purpose (24%) and effective feedback and development goals (23%) are the most successful ways of driving engagement 


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