C-Suite Leaders Feel Good, Despite The Davos Agenda | will it snow in florida

Here’s an excerpt from this week’s CIO Newsletter. To get it to your inbox, sign up here.

It’s that time of year when we get drenched with data about how business leaders really feel–and what they’re planning to spend. (Don’t be alarmed if your boss asks how you feel, too.) We know from our own research and events that C-Suite leaders are concerned about finding the right talent, technologies and sustainable growth. An EY study tells us almost a third of CEOs are halting planned investments because of geopolitics and 98% of them are bracing for a downturn. When the World Economic Forum kicks off next week in Davos, C-suite leaders will get to see how low they rank on this year’s Edelman Trust Barometer and then debate all manner of perils that are laid out in WEF’s Global Risks Report. Whee!

But there are signs of optimism in the senior ranks. World 50/G100 released a survey of 219 senior-level executives this morning that found 72% of them reporting their short-term (one-to-three year) outlook for growth to be good or excellent while 91% said the same when looking out over the next three to five years. (For the full survey, click here.)

Technology and telecommunications executives were most pessimistic about growth prospects over the next one to three years, perhaps because they’ve felt the immediate impact of inflation most acutely in terms of costs and demand. Consumer goods leaders were most pessimistic about the longer term. Across the board, the most optimistic players were CEOs in the business services sector. With turmoil in Asia and Europe, it might not surprise you to learn that only 4% of executives from non-U.S. companies felt their short-term outlook was excellent, compared with 21% of their U.S.-based peers.

The most important accelerator of growth was advances in technology, followed by an easing of the talent shortage. The biggest barriers to achieving that growth: talent and labor shortages, followed by recession and inflation. You know what isn’t really holding them back? Budget constraints and raw material shortages.

Where Are The CIOs In Davos—And Where Is The Love?

If you’re feeling a little wistful about not going to Davos next week, you’re not alone. I have fond memories of crashing into Best Buy’s Brad Anderson as I tried to traverse a snow bank, seeing Muhtar Kent of Coca Cola pull out a wad of small bills to praise the virtues of cash and having another CEO stop a sentence midstream to say “Is that Maria Bartiromo?” before dashing off. I, too, am not part of WEF Founder Klaus Schwab’s inner circle.

Take some comfort in knowing that the annual gathering is not universally revered. When I searched “How many CIOs attend Davos” yesterday, Google served up an excerpt from The Cabal, a 2022 thriller by Florida-based author Alan Refkin. We find protagonist Matt Moretti in the Oval Office, telling the President “Ballinger” that he and his partner believe the annual gathering of the World Economic Forum is also a meeting spot for a secretive group called The Cabal.

“We want to go to the Davos forum, sir, but the cost is steep,” says Moretti.

“How steep?”

At hearing the number, the President gives the nod, calling it a “better use of taxpayer money than some of the bills Congress sends me,” and says he’ll call Chinese President “Liu” to suggest he send two of his Cabal-fighting spies to Davos—but not before warning our protagonists to keep a low profile amid the “multitude of journalists.”

Lesson #1: Even the President doesn’t know how many CIOs attend Davos.

Back here in the real world, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis argued earlier this week that the vision of Davos attendees “is that they run everything and everyone else is basically a serf.” (I’m not sure that’s what Edelman’s Justin Blake had in mind when he suggested CEOs should imagine they’re at Davos every day.)

Lesson #2: Your governor probably doesn’t know how many CIOs attend, either.

Who needs it? As many a CEO has told me, they really only jet off to the Swiss Alps to meet customers and have tough conversations on critical issues. Otherwise, it’s kind of a drag. So think of all the money you’ll save by watching it online and come to Forbes for regular updates. And if you’re a CIO or CTO — or know one who’s worthy — fill out the nomination for our CIO Next list. Then offer to trade carbon credits with the boss when they get back to town and remember how good you’re feeling about the growth picture this year. Have a great week.


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