Our fifth year of research: so much has changed


We had high hopes for a new decade when we launched our inaugural HLB Survey of Business Leaders in 2020. Since then, businesses have faced a conveyor belt of crises from wars, to energy shocks and inflation, never mind the global pandemic. Almost half-way through the decade and risk levels have been on the rise.

The number of business leaders concerned about geopolitical risks has risen from a half to two thirds over this period. Cyber risks were a worry for 42% in 2020 and are now a concern for 63%. Notably, concerns over environmental and climate related risks have almost doubled from 29% to 52%.

But there is also a silver lining. I’m relieved to report that – after a few years of lower levels of confidence – this year, we are seeing confidence bounce back, with those leaders stating they are ‘very confident’ about their ability to grow revenue in the next twelve months even reaching a record high. 

Marco Donzelli; HLB CEO

Businesses who have survived the ‘polycrisis’ are making the most of challenging circumstances, proving the motto: "one can’t control events, only how you respond to them”. Leaders have adjusted their playbooks to make the most of changing economic, geopolitical and trade dynamics.

      • Over half of the senior executives we surveyed agree that changing trade arrangements are exposing new investment opportunities not available previously. This is up from 43% in 2020.

      • Almost half of respondents are now focusing their sourcing strategies closer to home, in response to recent events effecting the international business landscape.

      • And 44% of our respondents have found new and greener energy sources to overcome political or trade challenges. This is up from 27% in 2020.

Not surprisingly, the adoption of new ways of working has accelerated over the five-year period as leaders adapt their modus operandi to one more mobile, cloud-enabled and more ‘resource dynamic’ than in the previous decade. New technologies have enabled the rapid adoption of today’s platform-based, customer-focused, cloud and mobile empowered operating models, aided by a boost from the global pandemic.  

So, it’s not a surprise to me that the number of business leaders planning to adopt new technologies to drive growth has nearly doubled over the past five years of our survey. And that artificial intelligence (AI) has extended its lead as the most important emerging technology for businesses in the next five years. As such, our HLB Survey of Business Leaders 2024 report will focus on how leaders are embracing AI for competitive advantage.

In the second half of the decade, I expect we will witness a continued acceleration of the tech revolution: one led by AI and the multitude of applications which, as we are already seeing, will make businesses more efficient, more agile and more profitable than today. 

I look forward to sharing the results of our 2024 report and discuss business leader’s their attitude regarding AI technologies with a panel of subject matter experts at our launch event on the 25th of January, 2024. Click below to register for the livestream.

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