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Australian firms unprepared for astronomical change, reveals Accenture report
Tue, 16th Jan 2024

The latest annual 'Pulse of Change: 2024 Index report from Accenture, a survey that analyses the areas of change affecting businesses and the responses of global C-suite leaders, reveals that technology and talent are leading drivers of change. However, Australian businesses seem underprepared for these dynamics, with 62% of C-suite executives stating that they won't be ready to respond in 2024, a figure that is higher than the global average of 52%.

An interesting detail has surfaced regarding the perception gap in relation to talent. Talent, including issues like skills shortages and lack of employee engagement, was ranked as the second leading cause of business change in the indicator analysis. However, when surveyed, C-suite leaders ranked talent in fourth place. Despite this disconnect, 42% of the interviewed leaders did identify a skills shortage as one of the top struggles that would limit their organisation's capacity to adapt to change.

Despite this lack of preparation, Australian business leaders remain hopeful for the future. An impressive 88% of surveyed executives anticipate a quickening rate of change in 2024. Additionally, 73% see change as an opportunity, a percentage higher than the global average of 60%. More than half (86%) of the leaders are optimistic about accelerated revenue growth in 2024, compared to a global average of 68%.

Fuelling this optimism is the rise of generative Artificial Intelligence (AI). As many as 79% of those surveyed perceive generative AI as more of an opportunity than a threat, and an impressive 93% view it as more beneficial for revenue growth rather than merely as a tool for reducing costs. This view is an increase from the global average of 76%.

Accenture's Pulse of Change: 2024 Index utilises key business indicators to rank six factors of change that impact businesses: Technology, Talent, Economic, Geopolitical, Climate, and Consumer and Social. The ranking for technology as the leading cause of change shot up to Number one from its Number six rank in 2022, driven largely by the rapid advances in generative AI.

There is a key observation across all six elements: the rate of change has risen considerably since 2019. The survey shows a significant jump of 183% over the past four years and 33% in the past year alone.

Pete Burns, who leads Accenture’s business in Australia and NZ, warns that "incremental changes in ways of working and performance are no longer sufficient to compete. The most significant source of change and disruption, technology, is also the key to this structural change."

Despite the optimism, 52% of leaders revealed that they are not fully prepared to respond to the changes expected in the 2024 business environment. Close to half, 47%, admitted that they are not fully prepared for the accelerating pace of technology change, while 72% are now approaching investments with more caution because of societal concerns about the responsible use of AI. This caution underscores the need to balance the potential of new technologies with ethical considerations.