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January 22, 2008
Top Executives Cite Competition, Global Economy, Attracting and Retaining Talent as Top Threats to their Companies’ Success, Accenture Survey Finds


DAVOS, Switzerland; Jan. 22, 2008 — Competition, the health of the global economy and attracting and retaining the best talent top the list of threats to business success for senior executives at some of the world’s largest companies, according to a survey released today by Accenture (NYSE: ACN). 

The survey of more than 850 C-suite executives in the United States, United Kingdom, Italy, France, Germany, Spain, Japan and China also found that the pace of globalization has increased over the past year, when Accenture conducted a similar survey.  Specifically, executives reported that their companies’ global reach has grown in terms of the suppliers they use, their own employees, their office locations and their customers.

According to the findings, executives perceive the top five threats to business success as competition (cited by 73 percent of executives), the health of the global economy and the inability to attract and retain the best talent (67 percent each), company reputation (62 percent) and the inability to develop new products and services (51 percent).

These same issues topped the list of threats cited in a similar survey that Accenture conducted in 2005.  The one issue that has increased in importance, however, is that of talent, which was cited by 60 percent of executives in 2005 and rose to 67 percent in the new survey. 

“In today’s multi-polar world – where economic power is distributed among multiple centers of economic and business activity – the war for talent has gone global,” said Mark Foster, Accenture’s group chief executive – Management Consulting & Integrated Markets.  “Additionally, new technologies are transforming the nature of work, the skills demanded, the manner in which work is sourced globally and the ways in which people collaborate.  Leading organizations must build capabilities to understand and source talent more strategically, based on clear definitions of skills gaps and needs for the future.”  

Globalization is raising a number of concerns among the executives surveyed.  More than half (56 percent) said they are concerned or very concerned about the impact of the global economy on business.  Respondents also expressed concerns about their ability to maintain a common corporate culture (cited by 54 percent), as well as service remote customers effectively and understand local ways of doing business (52 percent each).  One in five (21 percent) said their organizations are not adequately equipped to succeed as global enterprises. 

“Rapid global business expansion presents significant management challenges and opportunities,” said Foster.  “As companies expand and enter these new markets, their success will depend on streamlining their global operations and differentiating their products and services.  At the same time, senior management must maintain and strengthen their companies’ core values and corporate identity, as well as secure a diverse and highly collaborative leadership team with knowledge that spans disparate markets.”

About the study

As part of an annual study to identify senior executives’ top concerns, Accenture conducted a telephone survey of 867 senior executives at many of the world’s largest organizations.  Respondents represented all major industries and the public sector and included executives at the highest levels of senior management (“C-suite” executives), as well as heads of key functional areas, such as human resources.  For this year’s study, fieldwork was conducted between September and December 2007.  For more information on the survey, visit www.accenture.com.

About Accenture

Accenture is a global management consulting, technology services and outsourcing company.  Combining unparalleled experience, comprehensive capabilities across all industries and business functions, and extensive research on the world’s most successful companies, Accenture collaborates with clients to help them become high-performance businesses and governments.  With more than 175,000 people in 49 countries, the company generated net revenues of US$19.70 billion for the fiscal year ended Aug. 31, 2007.  Its home page is www.accenture.com.

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