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Building on Hope: Bold Plans for the CEO Agenda

The new results of the “Summer 2021 Fortune/Deloitte CEO Survey” reveal what is on the minds of CEOs as they lead their organizations through and out of the pandemic: growth, transformation, and talent.

NEW YORK, July 12, 2021

Key takeaways

  • Seventy-seven percent of CEOs say they expect their organization’s growth to be strong over the next 12 months.
  • More than half of CEOs say that innovation/new products or application of technology will be a top-three driver of business success, and the vast majority consider cybersecurity moderately or highly relevant to their CEO agenda.
  • More than 80% of CEOs intend to increase spend on technology modernization over the next 12 months, and nearly three quarters say they are undergoing or preparing for digital and workforce/talent transformation.
  • Talent is the biggest challenge that CEOs say they face today.

Media contacts

Kori Green
Public Relations
Deloitte Services LP
+1 617 763 9593

Alison Klooster
Public Relations
+1 646 439 8142

Why it matters to CEOs
The Fortune/Deloitte CEO Survey series tracks perspectives and actions of CEOs from the world’s largest and most influential companies. The survey gives key insights into CEOs’ priorities, challenges and expectations across a diverse set of industries, including technology, finance and health care.

In January, CEOs described 2021 as the year of hope. Six months later, the latest results from the “Summer 2021 Fortune/Deloitte CEO Survey” appear to show that their hope has evolved into bold plans for growth, innovation, digital transformation and workforce/talent transformation. Also on their agenda is strong attention to sustainability, continued progress on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI), and elevated concern for cybersecurity and all things talent.

Growth expectations
CEOs recognize the emerging trends and expectations that will be important for their business and have quickly pivoted their priorities and objectives to align with new realities. Presently, 30% of CEOs expect their organization’s growth to be “very strong” over the next 12 months, while 47% expect “strong” growth, and 23% anticipate “modest” growth. No CEOs surveyed expect weak growth, signaling that the larger business community is more confident of their organization’s position relative to the uncertainty of 2020.

What do CEOs expect to fuel their organization’s business success over the next 12 months? When asked to pick their top three drivers, more than half of CEO respondents give roughly equal credit to innovation or new products and the application of technology (such as digital transformation or artificial intelligence). Nearly 4 in 10 expect accelerated or pent-up consumer demand to drive business success this year, and 1 in 3 CEOs expect to reap the benefits of increased operational efficiencies (e.g., hybrid workforce).

Digital transformation and innovation
In examining how the pandemic impacted strategic objectives, operations and expectations, the report shows that CEOs plan to divert more money to those areas which they deem crucial to their business success. Nearly 3 in 4 CEOs say their organizations are undergoing or preparing for digital transformation. Consistent with that priority, 4 in 5 CEOs expect their organizations to increase the level of spending in technology modernization and more than two-thirds of CEOs plan to increase spending on artificial intelligence. Not surprising given the increased emphasis on technology, 86% of CEO respondents say that cybersecurity is moderately or highly relevant to their agenda.