BOSTON, MA--(Marketwired - Dec 12, 2013) - Business leaders around the world feel least prepared to execute on strategies for driving growth -- among them, large-scale transformation, open innovation, digital channels, and talent management -- according to a global survey released today by The Boston Consulting Group (BCG).

More than 1,000 senior executives across varying regions and sectors assessed how important 15 business challenges are for their companies and how prepared they feel their companies are to address those challenges. BCG conducted the survey as part of the firm's fiftieth anniversary Game Changing program, a year-long effort to highlight the most pressing issues facing business leaders.

"This survey gave us an opportunity to hear directly from business leaders about how they view the requirements for success in a fast-changing, global economy," says Patrick Ducasse, a senior partner at BCG. "Growth, fitness, adaptability, connectivity, stewardship -- these are the things that separate the winners from the losers. It is clear from our survey that a significant proportion of top executives are not prepared for the biggest challenges."

Among the major findings:

  • Talent management is the biggest blind spot. Respondents identified talent management as the most significant pain point, representing the largest gap between importance and preparedness. Overall, 76 percent of leaders ranked this challenge as important, while only 18 percent felt prepared for it.

  • Consumer and retail industries feel least prepared for the digital revolution. Consumer and retail industry leaders indicated that they feel least prepared for the challenges of the digital revolution (highest gap between importance and preparedness as compared to other industries). Nevertheless, they rated leveraging customer data (70 percent) and supply-chain excellence (66 percent) as most important, thus underscoring the need for understanding customers and monitoring and controlling the interdependencies of increasingly complex international supply chains.

Top Five Business Challenges by Level of Unpreparedness (Percent "Very Unprepared or "Unprepared")
    Global   U.S. and Canada   Europe   BRIC   Asia-Pacific
Large-Scale Transformation   20   18   17   23   21
Open Innovation   19   20   15   19   24
Leverage Customer Data   18   19   15   20   16
Digital Channels   17   12   16   27   15
Distinctive Business Models   14   11   14   16   18
  • Priorities differ significantly by region. U.S. executives ranked growth in existing markets as their top priority, while European executives focused on making operations more flexible and efficient. Leaders from the BRIC and Asia-Pacific regions ranked both as equally important, with executives from the latter stressing growth in new markets as a point for expansion.

  • Small and midsize companies are better prepared to adapt. When questioned on adaptability, leaders of large companies indicated that they feel less prepared (17 percent felt prepared). Small companies seem to have an edge over enhancing the skills needed to read the signals of change and to act upon them in time (22 percent felt prepared). Moreover, the preparedness to be adaptive and efficient surfaced as a vital measure of performance, representing the largest difference between below- market and above-market performers.

  • North American leaders are more confident about tackling challenges surrounding long-term values. Regarding the 15 business challenges presented, leaders from the United States and Canada felt most prepared for addressing long-term values (57 percent) when compared with leaders from Europe (41 percent), the BRIC nations (45 percent), and the Asia-Pacific region (31 percent).


"BCG has always been at the forefront of deciphering the complex economic forces and trends shaping our world," says Ducasse. "If companies are to take advantage of the growth opportunities around the world, then they need to develop the requirements for success."


This survey of more than 1,000 senior executives was conducted in 2013. European countries included France, Germany, Italy, Spain, and the UK. Asia-Pacific countries included Australia, Japan, Indonesia and South Korea. Leaders from Brazil, China, India, Mexico, and Russia were also surveyed.

Participants were asked to rate the level of importance and their companies' level of preparedness with regard to the following 15 challenges:

  • Growth in current markets
  • Growth in new markets
  • Open innovation
  • Flexible and efficient operations
  • Large-scale transformation
  • Talent management
  • Balancing growth and efficiency
  • Increasing adaptiveness
  • Distinctive business models
  • Leveraging customer data
  • Digital channels
  • Supply-chain excellence
  • Long-term values
  • Sustainability
  • Localization of production

For information about the survey or BCG's Game Changing program, please contact Eric Gregoire at +1 617 850 3783 or

About the BCG Game Changing Program
For 50 years, The Boston Consulting Group has been helping leaders anticipate and respond to a changing world. Today, radical shifts in the global economy and a relentless rise in uncertainty have altered the competitive landscape. To help leaders capitalize on the emerging opportunities, we have condensed the results of our experience with companies and governments around the world into a series of publications devoted to five important requirements for success: the growth imperative, the fitness factor, the adaptive mindset, the two sides of connectivity, and the perpetuity principle. For organizations to own the future, they must change their game.

About The Boston Consulting Group
The Boston Consulting Group (BCG) is a global management consulting firm and the world's leading advisor on business strategy. We partner with clients from the private, public, and not-for-profit sectors in all regions to identify their highest-value opportunities, address their most critical challenges, and transform their enterprises. Our customized approach combines deep insight into the dynamics of companies and markets with close collaboration at all levels of the client organization. This ensures that our clients achieve sustainable competitive advantage, build more capable organizations, and secure lasting results. Founded in 1963, BCG is a private company with 78 offices in 43 countries. For more information, please visit

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Contact Information:

The Boston Consulting Group
Eric Gregoire
Global Media Relations Manager

Tel +1 617 850 3783
Fax +1 617 850 3701