Indian CEOs are optimistic in general but struggle to understand millennials

13 August 2018 3 min. read
More news on

The atmosphere in the Indian business environment is an optimistic one, and a new report from global professional services firm KPMG reveals that CEOs in India are especially happy with the global economic state of affairs. 70% of top executives expressed confidence in India’s economy, compared to 90% who have faith in the global economy, while 40% are still working out how millennial needs differ from traditional ones.

Trade wars and expanding regulatory frameworks: none of it appears to be bothering chief executives in India, who see opportunities galore in the global economy, particularly in terms of untapped emerging markets and the transformation of businesses in the developed world.

Such is the general outlook obtained by Big Four accounting and advisory firm KPMG through a survey of 125 CEOs working in a broad variety of sectors in India. Most are ramping up their growth strategy at a global level, and the report reveals some of the popular avenues that executives are taking.

Measured expansion and greater agility in internal operations, for instance, are two broad strategies that are currently prevalent. For the former, CEOs are currently focusing on emerging markets when expanding, particularly in and around Asia as India is set to take centre stage for regional growth in decades to come.

What CEOs are doing

For the latter, many have long hopped onto the digital transformation bandwagon – complete with greater reliance on AI, cloud and blockchain – and the focus has now shifted to accurately measuring the returns on investment for these enhancements. An example of this is a recent move from Infosys that has placed the firm’s specific performance in the digital domain amongst the criteria for evaluation of its top executives.

In similar vein, firms are also looking inward at their talent pools and working towards a greater concentration of digital expertise, not only to manage their own digital transformations but also to develop solutions in the domain, the demand for which is increasing every day.

However, with great digital power comes the great risk of cyber attacks, which is another area where CEOs are investing time and money, given the increasing frequency and intensity of cyber attacks. India has recently been named among the top 20 countries under constant threat from cyber crime, accounting for 3% of the attacks worldwide.

CEOs and millennials

Collaborating with and investing in startups is another shortcut for many CEOs looking to modernise their operations. Major tech players including Accenture and Microsoft are establishing mechanisms to identify potential partners in India’s booming tech startup environment.

Investing in startups also helps organisations better relate with millenials, something that 50% of the CEOs appear to be struggling with. The challenge is born out of the trade off between experienced senior leadership and management that can identify with youth sentiment, given that millenials are set to become the prime consumer base over the next few years.

Other challenges that millennials are posing to CEOs include the increasing expectation for on-demand services – which many firms are still trying to make profitable – as well as engaging with youngsters on digital media, where temperament can shift rapidly.