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CEO outlook 2024: Navigating growth and value creation

Dec 27, 2023

The year 2024 presents a unique set of opportunities and obstacles for CEOs.

As CEOs prepare for the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead in 2024, several key priorities emerge. Embracing generative AI, leveraging technology to drive growth, cleaning data, leveraging external expertise and investing in the energy transition are crucial for staying competitive.

Recognizing and nurturing distinctive capabilities, empowering middle managers and building geopolitical resilience are also essential. CEOs must navigate the path to growth and make informed decisions in the face of macroeconomic uncertainty.

Here is a look at the tips and strategies that CEOs are facing as they navigate the path to success in 2024:

Generative AI: From proof of concept to scale

The arrival of generative AI has emerged as a game-changer in various industries worldwide. Thousands of companies are already using generative AI to transform their business activities.

However, the challenge lies in scaling its use and understanding its potential impact on different areas of the business. CEOs need to identify which parts of their organization can benefit from generative AI and strategize how to integrate it across multiple applications.

Furthermore, CEOs must stay informed about the evolving tools and their implications for the industry — or find the right partner to wade through the ocean of information to provide concise, strategic direction.

Unleashing the power of technology

Digital and AI transformation has been on the agenda for most companies for several years.

However, the desired results are often elusive due to a lack of fundamental organizational changes required to maximize the value of digital. CEOs must prioritize rewiring their enterprises to extract the full potential of digitalization.

This includes focusing on revenue growth, cost reduction and leveraging technology to gain a competitive edge.

Cleaning up your dirty data

In today's data-driven world, growth and new initiatives are being hamstrung by wrong or missing data.

This is the year CEOs need to invest in cleaning up their dirty data. Incomplete, inaccurate or inconsistent data can have serious consequences. AI and all technology tools require clean data, or they’ll produce inaccurate results that can lead to poor decisions.

By investing in data cleansing processes and tools, CEOs can improve decision-making, reduce costs, enhance customer relationships, help ensure regulatory compliance and enable more effective data integration and analysis.

Ultimately, clean data is the foundation upon which businesses can build successful strategies and gain a competitive edge in today’s data-centric landscape.

The energy transition and capital reallocation

The transition to clean and sustainable energy sources continues to be a pressing global concern.

The cost of this transition has increased, as companies and investors have been hesitant to commit their capital.

To address this challenge, CEOs must explore opportunities for investment in green technologies and leveraging the right R&D or energy tax credits to mitigate the cost.

Creating new businesses in the green tech sector is crucial for building a sustainable future. Identifying the right areas, timing and investment strategies are key factors for CEOs to consider in this ever-evolving landscape.

Embracing distinctive capabilities

Every successful company possesses a unique set of capabilities that sets it apart from the competition. CEOs must identify and nurture these distinctive superpowers to ensure sustainable growth.

Whether it is Toyota's production system, LVMH's craftsmanship or Disney's customer experiences, these capabilities elevate companies above commoditized markets.

Implementing and refining these capabilities requires exceptional execution and aligning the organization toward building and leveraging these strengths.

The emerging trend of outsourced C-suite

Traditionally, outsourcing has been viewed as something organizations can do with supporting roles. But a new trend is emerging: Growing companies are increasingly outsourcing C-suite positions as the talent pool for specialized, high-value expertise dwindles.

Baby boomers still make up the majority of C-suite positions, yet in the coming year, we’ll see more than 12,000 people a day hit retirement age. That tsunami of retirements will trigger a loss of experience, institutional knowledge and expertise that is hitting CEOs just at a time when they need even more experts to drive strategies and growth in 2024.

Outsourcing C-suite roles — either in the short or long term — will help provide stability and scalability.

Geopolitical uncertainty: Building resilience

CEOs must acknowledge the geopolitical uncertainty and consider potential black swan events or gray rhinos that could impact their business.

Building geopolitical resilience is crucial for navigating through high-impact and unexpected changes in the global landscape.

Management teams and boards should incorporate geopolitical scenarios into their planning and develop strategies that can withstand various outcomes.

Navigating the path to growth

Growth is a constant pursuit for CEOs, but the path to achieving it is not always clear-cut.

Strategies for growth can vary, from seizing market share to expanding into new markets or venturing into unexplored territories.

Turbocharging the core through technology, growing where expertise lies and acquiring programmatically are some of the strategies that CEOs should consider to achieve growth in 2024.

Macroeconomic uncertainty: Embracing ambiguity

The macroeconomic landscape remains uncertain, and CEOs should not expect absolute certainty.

Leading firms thrive in uncertainty by assessing their risk appetite and strategically investing during market downturns. Scenario planning becomes crucial, as it reveals core actions that companies need to take regardless of economic trends.

CEOs should consider the new scenarios developed by experts to gain insights into potential developments in the global balance sheet. Understanding shifts from the banking system to private markets is also essential for public companies.

How Wipfli can help

We help leaders build organizations of the future, so they are ready to embrace and thrive in a complex marketplace. We bring a unique perspective of intertwining strategy, operations and people to help craft the right organizational strategy and operating model to drive growth, innovation, resilience and transformation. Learn more about how we can help your firm start to operate in prime.

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Wipfli Editorial Team