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Leadership, Technology and the Economy: CEOs at Davos

Jan 21, 2016

Uncertain prospects for the global economy this year is clearly on the minds of U.S. business leaders surveyed in PwC's 2016 CEO Survey, released this week by the company's CEO Dennis Nally at the World Economic Forum in Davos. But no matter how the economy shakes out, CEOs are also thinking about how their companies and customers will be responding to a world of dynamic technological change.  

As the WEF explained, the goal of this year's gathering is: "We live in a fast-paced and interconnected world, where breakthrough technologies, demographic shifts and political transformations have far-reaching societal and economic consequences. More than ever, leaders need to share insights and innovations on how best to navigate the future."

Business Roundtable member CEOs were interviewed in conjunction with the PwC survey, and their comments are all worth consideration.

Brian Moynihan, Bank of America, "Banking on Technology for All Ages"


PwC:  What trends do you see impacting Bank of America over the next three to five years?
Brian Moynihan:  The major trend that all industries face is the impact of technology on every single aspect of a company. Whether it’s your operational efficiency in applying technology to traditionally manual processes. Whether it’s enhanced intelligence, from big data analysis to help managing marketing, risk, product creation, or assessment of ideas. In our case, it’s customers using smartphone technology instead of walking into one of our branches.
We’re all still learning how to use this untethered computing power to distribute products, services, and information differently, but technology is going to lead to sea changes in how companies are organized and run across all industries, and ours is no different.
PwC: Are the structural changes you’ve described causing you to revise your strategy?
Ajay Banga: In our company a lot of people are saying that in the next five years, we’re going to see more change in our industry than we saw in the previous 50. I think they’re right. The strategy we’re following today has evolved from where it was last year and the previous year, not just where it was five or six years ago.
What’s driving that change is technology and digitization, which together changes the entire way consumers interact with businesses or it changes the way businesses interact with other businesses. Thinking that your old castle with its old moat will survive for the next ten years is not going to happen. You can keep trying to pour oil on the invaders, but they will eventually break through. They’re going to move the castle, and you’ll have to follow.
We are very conscious of the changes in our industry, and are trying to keep pace with it, not just in terms of who we hire or how much we invest into a new technology, but also what it means for our core businesses. It’s about having an engine of capital appreciation and raising cash that allows us to reinvest in all these new areas.
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