Executives’ Top New Year’s Resolution Focuses on Customers According to Accenture Survey

New York, November 27, 2001 – Customers are the number one priority for executives in 2002 and outsourcing non-core business functions such as manufacturing remains a key strategy for growth among executives, according to an Accenture (NYSE:ACN) study. These are among the key findings in a survey of 150 high-level executives of Fortune 1000 companies that Accenture conducted to gauge business leaders’ outlooks on 2002.

According to the survey, 91 percent of executives said a greater focus on customer service and building customer loyalty is critically important not only in weathering the economic downturn, but also in strategically positioning for its eventual upswing. The study also revealed that executives see customer relationship management (CRM) as a top business strategy or technology for 2002. Thirty-eight percent of executives say CRM is their first choice; followed by 26 percent new product development; 17 percent enterprise resource management (ERP) and 15 percent supply chain management (SCM).

“In 2002, there will be greater urgency in improving the quality of customer relationships. This is particularly true for electronics and high tech companies. CRM technologies can help make this happen and it’s clear from the survey that executives think so too,” said David B. Rich, Accenture – global industry managing partner, Electronics &High Tech practice. “The challenge is to take their investment in CRM to the next level by collecting customer data and then using this insight to make interactions across all touch points more efficient, to build loyalty and to generate revenue lift,” said Rich.

In addition to focusing more on customers, another priority for executives in the coming year will be outsourcing non-core functions. According to the survey, 27 percent will continue to outsource non-core functions and an additional 28 percent say they will consider additional outsourcing alternatives. Further, 17 percent say they are likely to explore outsourcing.

“As the New Year approaches, executives have difficult decisions to make. They recognize that in a swiftly evolving marketplace, outsourcing non-core functions like manufacturing or warehouse management is a smart, strategic, and cost effective way to better focus on what their companies do best,” said Charles Roussel, Accenture – partner, Electronics & High Tech practice.

Other Notable Findings
Regarding spending on information technology, 71 percent of executives plan either to upgrade existing software/technology or to consolidate IT infrastructure. The research suggests that corporate spending will continue, but predominantly in areas that help to optimize existing investments rather than investing in brand new IT initiatives.

The survey provides some good news regarding layoffs. When asked if they see workforce reductions being much of a factor in 2002, more than half (59%) of the executives say that they expect to maintain current or near-current staffing levels. More than a third (39%) anticipate a reduction of less than five percent of their workforce and a fifth (20%) of all surveyed anticipate no layoffs at all in 2002. Moreover, almost two-thirds (62%) of executives say their company is likely to recruit new employees to balance short-term results and prepare for a market upswing.

The events of September 11th have shifted some priorities for executives. Sixty-seven percent of executives plan to institute formal crisis management into their business models and 71 percent will initiate greater computer and network security. Based on the survey, executives appear to be much more vigilant about contingency plans, disaster and recovery plans, and preparing for all types of unexpected events in the year ahead.

Accenture conducted the survey in conjunction with Wirthlin Worldwide. Wirthlin’s periodic Executive Omnibus survey is designed to find out what the nation’s top corporate leaders think about the issues affecting business today. Executive Omnibus provides a comprehensive and inexpensive source of needed information about current attitudes of leading executives in Fortune 1000 companies, including CEOs, chairmen, and executive vice presidents.

Wirthlin interviewed, by telephone, a representative sample of 150 of the leading executives in the Fortune 1000 from October 17, 2001 through November 19, 2001. A broad range of industries, services, locales, land sizes of companies are equally represented. Breakdowns of executive opinion by type of industry or service, geographic location, company size, level of executive and other variables that help explain attitudes and behavior.

About Accenture
Accenture is the world’s leading management and technology consulting organization. Through its network of businesses approach – in which the company enhances its consulting and outsourcing expertise through alliances, ventures and other capabilities – Accenture delivers innovations that help clients across all industries quickly realize their visions. With more than 75,000 people in 47 countries, the company generated net revenues of $11.44 billion for the fiscal year ended August 31, 2001. Its home page is http://www.accenture.com.


Karen Cooperman



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