CEO Priorities for 2023: keeping up the pace of business transformation

  • PwC survey of 4,410 CEOs in October and November of 2022 across all major regions including Australia.

  • 86% of CEOs in Australia are investing in upskilling their workforce, with automation and deploying technology close behind.

  • However, the speed of workforce transformation will determine the speed of technology transformation.

Insights from PwC Australia’s 26th CEO Survey make for fascinating reading. The pandemic, inflation, cybersecurity, geopolitical conflict and labour shortages are all still affecting business. So, what do CEOs see as the most concerning in 2023, and what can they do about it?

Our survey data is clear: the number one problem facing CEOs in Australia is ensuring our companies have the right skill sets. 

About three quarters of CEOs in Australia say that issues related to workforce management and skills are the biggest challenges facing their business in 2023, with technology implementation /change management a close third:

Which internal factors do you believe will present the greatest challenges for your business over the next 12 months? (Top 5 listed)

Source: 26th Annual Global CEO Survey

Which external factors do you believe will present the greatest challenges for your business over the next 12 months? (Top 5 listed)

Source: 26th Annual Global CEO Survey

Almost nine in 10 CEOs in Australia say they are investing in upskilling in 2023 – a higher level than our global counterparts at 72%, with automation and technology key: 

Which of the following investments, if any, is your company making in the next 12 months?

Source: PwC's 26th Annual Global Survey

However, as companies seek to be both human-led and tech-powered, CEOs will need to balance people and technology to ensure long-term growth aspirations. Without the people-power to enable the technology, it will be challenging to make any great strides. In effect, the speed of workforce transformation determines the speed of technological transformation.

The need to focus on workforce transformation is clear.  Almost one in three CEOs in Australia believe their company won’t exist 10 years from now if they continue on the same path:

If your company continues running on its current path, for how long do you think your business will be economically viable? 

Source: PwC's 26th Annual Global Survey

As CEOs seek solutions, our survey data shows there are still plenty of opportunities for businesses to broaden collaboration outside of traditional industries and to work together as a community of solvers with governments, academics, entrepreneurs and the not-for-profit sector. New thinking may result in new ideas.

“CEOs and their executive teams must be bold in how they reframe their businesses to thrive in the digital era – from how they serve customers, to the business models they pursue, to ways in which work within their organisations get done,” says Rohit Antao, PwC Australia's Cloud & Digital Business Lead. 


End note: PwC’s 26th CEO Survey was conducted over a six-week period in October and November 2022. It received 64 responses from Chief Executive Officers (CEOs), or equivalent, of 42 privately-owned and 22 publicly-owned companies in Australia across almost 20 industry sectors out of 4,410 responses globally.

Read the full report:

Rohit Antao

Advisory Co-Leader, Melbourne, PwC Australia

+61 2 8266 0000