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September 21, 2008

Mid-market CEOs plan to invest to impress

CEOs at mid-size firms are expecting massive change, but worry about their ability to make those changes.

By Janine Milne

More than eight out of 10 leaders in IBM’s Global CEO Study, expected big changes to their business this year, yet only just over half said they had previous success in managing large-scale change.

Despite their lack of confidence in managing change, they are pushing ahead particularly in areas such as globalisation, customer service and corporate social responsibility.

To achieve their global expansion goals, the respondents said they would increase investment by 20% over the next three years, and doctor their business models to stand out from the crowd. In particular, they intended to make deep changes to their capabilities, knowledge and assets (60%), build partnerships (54%) and enter new markets (51%).

Their bid to improve customer service involved tapping into a savvy brand of consumers, which IBM calls the “information omnivore”, who lap up information and often broadcast their views over the Internet.

CSR investment was seen by respondents as a way for companies to differentiate themselves from competitors and build a reputation with customers. As a result, CEO spending was expected to rise 34%.

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