NORTH HIGHLAND 2019 BEACON REPORT: Business Leaders Bullish on Company Growth but Feel Unprepared to Achieve Key Priorities

December 6, 2018

December 6, 2018 (ATLANTA) – Eighty-six percent of senior business leaders from companies with annual revenues greater than $1 billion forecast organizational growth for 2019, yet less than 30 percent feel prepared to address their top priorities, according to the annual North Highland Beacon, released today by global management consulting firm North Highland. The industry trends report finds that executives across sectors including healthcare, life sciences, financial services, retail, consumer packaged goods, energy and media/entertainment/communications are excited and energized for the coming year.

“While business executives across all industries are optimistic about growth, there’s a disconnect - with the majority not feeling prepared to tackle strategic priorities,” noted Alex Bombeck, managing director and president of North Highland. “Businesses can overcome a lack of readiness by infusing better business intelligence and applying longer-term visioning to create a more informed decision-making process that can advance other organizational priorities while effectively engaging employees.”

The North Highland Beacon includes responses from 700 senior business decision makers from U.S. and U.K. companies. The top-rated priority to fuel growth includes a focus on operational efficiencies (86 percent) with 75 percent rating this category more important than last year. Additional areas that follow closely in importance include data & analytics (83 percent), customer-centricity/experience (82 percent), cyber security (81 percent) and product/service innovation (80 percent).

While cybersecurity dropped from first place last year, it continues to be a critical focus as customers expect leading edge protections to assure their information is secure. The change indicates that companies have increased resources to meet this crucial need.

To gain competitive advantages, leadership is focused on key differentiators including product/service innovation (66 percent), customer experience - CX (56 percent) and data & analytics - D&A (54 percent). Companies that can best combine these elements will lead their industries.

When asked about obstacles to attaining 2019 goals, respondents indicate the road blocks often tie back to human engagement. The highest barriers include people/resources (76 percent), clear strategy (72 percent) and knowledge/skills (70 percent.)

Shaped by the Beacon findings, North Highland offers three strategic insights for the coming year and beyond.

  1. Open data is now the rule, not the exception. Valuable findings have traditionally been trapped in silos, but forward-thinking organizations are democratizing and sharing robust data to enable employees to make better decisions.
  2. Get to the source of human-centered problems. Leading organizations are tapping creative ways to recognize the importance of individual contributors and cultivate employee buy-in. Building on an open data foundation, apply insights from qualitative and quantitative data to inform the design of products, services, and experiences that customers seek.
  3. Plan with a long view. To stay competitive, avoid strategizing without considering broader market and longer-term disruption. Adopt iterative thinking to address continually changing market demands.

To view the full 2019 Beacon report, visit: http://thinking.northhighland.com/beacon-2019-executive-summary.


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