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Business Leaders’ Buoyant Outlook Still Shackled With Persistent Doubts: Deloitte’s Inaugural Business Confidence Report 2014

By Rob Starr, Big4.com Content Manager

As you can quickly surmise from the title, the inaugural Deloitte Business Confidence Report 2014: “The Gap Between Confidence and Action,” has a certain underlying message in that while business leaders are confident about their company’s futures, lingering doubts still fester in areas like shortage of skilled workers, cyber risk and regulatory and tax constraints.

Michael Canning, National Managing Director – Strategy & Operations at Deloitte Consulting,

Michael Canning

Michael Canning

told Big4.com the purpose of the new survey was to align an understanding of what was happening in the economy with the confidence levels of the executives who run the largest and most important corporations in America. Three hundred U.S. “CXOs,” who are U.S. executives with C-level titles at companies with 1,000 or more employees, and 300 U.S. “CXOs-in-Waiting,” aged 33-48 with professional titles of SVP, executive VP, or equivalent, at companies with 1,000 or more employees, who will likely be promoted to a C-level position in the next 5-10 years, were the focus groups for the research. 

Indices

“There are a lot of different indices out there that try to look at confidence and level of activity,” he says, “but what we thought was missing was an explanation of why corporations have been on the sidelines for the last four or five years with such large amounts of capital on their balance sheets while being modest with new initiatives.”

The Deloitte research pointed to several factors that were acting as obstacles.

“When we asked what was slowing the ability to grow, cyber risk, what’s going on in the marketplace overall, the economic health of the country, lack of skilled workers, tax constraints and regulatory constraints are all topics that came up,” Canning said. He finds these regulatory constraints of special interest.

“A number of my clients in the health care industry in the last five years have spent more than half of their investment, new capabilities and technology budgets on compliance with regulatory expectations.”

However when he lined these persistent obstacles up in order of importance, executives worried about the threats to their organization’s security from online activities the most.

Cyber Risk

“I think cyber risk is very much top of mind not only for the financial liabilities that come with it, but far more from the reputational blowback and the impact on brand and trust with your customers when that’s breached,” he says calling it “an omnipresent issue that few can say they’ve mastered and solved.”

Canning also touched on the shortage of skilled workers and how that presents another drag on confidence by saying the falling unemployment numbers don’t tell the whole story in that  they don’t account for the large numbers of people still waiting for more traditional business roles to open up.

“The type of talent that companies are looking for in the new economy is in much shorter supply,” he says citing the need for IT related experience.

Read the full report here.

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