Keeping us up at night – the big issues facing business leaders in 2019. A KPMG report.

What’s really top of mind (when there’s no axe to grind)?

What are Australian business leaders really concerned about in 2019?

Certainly, there’s no shortage of theories. In fact, scan the news on any given day and you’ll find dozens of voices exclaiming how a particular issue is THE most pressing concern weighing upon the nation’s business community.

The problem with this noise is it’s hard to draw a neat line between self interest and fact.

We hear an awful lot of declarations about what’s worrying ‘business leaders,’ but rarely see any rigorous attempt to ask or verify them.

KPMG wanted to challenge this.

KPMG Acuity engaged a broad spectrum of C-level leaders from a diversity of industries to think about the main issues exercising them when they consider 2019.

220 leaders – some with fewer than 50 employees, some running companies with revenues of over $1 billion a year – took time out to respond. Most were from the private sector, but the public sector is represented as well.

The result is an objective, dispassionate, and interesting ‘Top 10’ of the most significant issues facing Australia’s leaders in 2019. We then asked relevant thought leaders from across KPMG to contribute their insights on why an issue made the Top 10, where it’s headed in 2019, and how it should be tackled.

To summarise, the top 10 issues discussed in the report include:

Digital Transformation – In 2018, the term ‘digital transformation’ means so many things there is a very real risk that this lack of clarity is causing confusion, leading to diverse agendas and ultimately missed opportunities.

Innovation and disruption – The fear of disruption, on its most elemental level, is straightforward: the constant worry that your competition will use new technology, new methods and new business models to do what you are not. But as we look toward 2019, we see the modern dilemma is actually more immediate, more tangible, and more complex.

Regulation – 
With an avalanche of new regulatory requirements bearing down on Australian organisations, there’s no doubt compliance will be a significant burden for most, especially financial institutions in 2019.

Political paralysis – Exactly what caused Australia’s political paralysis is a matter of considerable debate. What is certain, however, is that a breakdown in engagement and trust has led to a compromise in the robustness of public policy. This in turn, is causing genuine headaches for Australian organisations.

Customer centricity – The customer is your new boss.  Satisfying your new boss, the customer, is much more than asking them what they want and giving it to them.

Cost competitiveness – Cost competitiveness remains a key issue for many business leaders, who indicated government charges, taxes, raw material costs, energy prices, and labour costs make it challenging to compete in a globally competitive marketplace.

Public trust – The deficit in public trust has widened due to movement on both sides of the divide. On one side, you have the examples of poor behaviour in the worlds of business and politics. On the other, you have growing public expectations and powerful new social media platforms that given ordinary people a place to broadcast their views and have influence.

Cybersecurity and data privacy – No longer relegated to the status of an ‘IT issue’, organisations are now awake to the broad gamut of risk presented by cybercrime and cyber-espionage.

Big data – Data is fast becoming one of the most important intangible assets for organisations, enabling better product development and personalised service offerings. However, the growing commoditisation of data and the advent of serious data breaches has called for sweeping regulatory change to codify accountability and transparency.

Infrastructure and liveable cities – The volume of data continues to skyrocket and technology has made the collection, storage, analysis and sharing of data far easier than before.

To check out the full report, click here.