Indian chief executive officers (CEOs) are optimistic about the growth prospects of Indian economy over the next three years, according to a survey by consulting firm KPMG released on Monday.

A whopping 88% of 131 Indian CEOs in the third annual India CEO Outlook 2017 report exuded confidence about the Indian economy both in the short and medium terms.

However, there has been a considerable dip in CEO confidence about the global economy that stood at 63% this year against 77% last year.

“Overall geopolitical uncertainties in the global economy, and growing instances of protectionism especially in the west, have probably contributed to a slight dip in the confidence towards the global economy," the report said.

While 68% CEOs are prioritising their existing markets, 44% are looking at India, and 43% are eyeing Asia Pacific region, for growth.

The survey offers insights into the forces disrupting the business landscape and how today’s CEOs are equipping their companies and themselves to manage the challenges of the future, said Arun Kumar, chairman and CEO, KPMG in India.

“Majority of the CEOs are upbeat about the growth of the Indian economy. Optimism about India’s growth is higher than that for the global economy. The CEOs are now willing to build partnerships, collaborate with others and merge or acquire to gain relevant competencies which is a welcoming change." added Kumar.

As many as 79% CEOs agreed that any increase in inflation means that increased costs are expected to get passed on to their customers, while 97% felt an increasing responsibility to represent the expectations and needs of their customers, the report added.

The theme of this year’s survey is -‘Disrupt and Grow’ - as new CEOs rise as positive disruptors, harnessing uncertainty, by challenging their own role to better lead their business to success in a rapidly changing world, KPMG said in a media statement.

Indian CEOs are focused on building cyber secure organisations as 84% showed interest in investing big on cyber security.

“Though the percentage of CEOs who mentioned that they are fully prepared for a cyber-event, has increased in India (from 17% in 2016 to 45% in 2017), it is low considering that cybersecurity today must be one of the key business priorities for companies in wake of the recent ransomware attacks," the survey said.

As much as 85% are looking at high investment towards data analytics tools during the next three years, slightly higher than the global number that stood at 72%.

“Eight out of every 10 CEOs expect significant level of investments in their digital infrastructure to increase significantly over next three years, which will further support adoption of data analytics for strategic decision making," the survey said.

Respondents stressed on joint ventures or collaborative partnerships (44%) for business growth.

“In this year’s findings, Indian CEOs have mentioned that in the face of new challenges and uncertainties, they are now feeling urgency to disrupt and grow. Similar to last year, more than half the CEOs expect that organisation to be transformed into a significantly different entity over the next three years. They continue to focus on innovating their products and services, changing internal processes, adopting new technologies and building a resilient organisation. Most CEOs see this disruption as an opportunity, rather than a threat," Kumar said.

Reputational and brand risk, emerging technologies and global economic factors, respondents believe, featured among top factors impacting a company’s growth. While building trust among external stakeholders and customers featured among top three priorities for 75% CEOs, another 63% are substantial investments towards emerging technologies over the next three years, and yet another 41% CEOs are reassessing their organisations’ global footprints owing to the changing pace of globalisation and protectionism, the survey revealed.

Physical infrastructure (82%), digital infrastructure (82%), innovation (69%, including new products/services), regulatory compliance (69%), emerging technologies (63%) are the high investments areas for CEOs.

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