Getting the House in Order: U.S. Execs Look at Economic Slowdown

More than half of U.S. executives believe that the economic downturn has a silver lining, according to a recent study conducted by Accenture and Wirthlin Worldwide. Fifty-three percent of the executives agree that eliminating poor business models is the "silver lining of the economic slowdown."

The study surveyed 150 business leaders, including CEOs, chairmen and executive vice presidents, to gauge their outlook on the current economic slowdown and their level of satisfaction in their recent technology investments. Most of the executives surveyed have taken advantage of the current economy to pause, take a critical look at their business models, and "get their house in order."

Thirty-nine percent of the executives believe that the inability to get new capital is the most negative impact of the slowdown. Those surveyed also noted that employees are easier to recruit and retain, but that the future for them remained uncertain. Thirty-one percent of executives with large companies stated that they believe the economic slowdown will allow them to focus on cost reduction and enable them to gain more sector prominence as the marketplace shakeout eliminates competitors.

"By maximizing their investments in key technologies, businesses can survive a period of anemic economic growth and prepare themselves to thrive once the economy emerges from a slow period," said David B. Rich, Accenture’s global industry managing partner for the Electronics & High Tech industry group. "CEOs can lead their businesses to achieve corporate objectives by seeing every challenge as an opportunity to improve and secure key business processes and infrastructure operations."

According to the survey, 38 percent of the executives believe that the most beneficial "new technology investments" made in the past two years were in supply chain management. They agreed that customer relationship management and enterprise resource planning were close behind, at 29 percent and 22 percent, respectively. Both CRM and mobile/wireless technologies broke out as the "next big wave or killer application for the business world, " but SCM, ERP and HRM technologies followed close behind as killer app favorites.

Not surprisingly, views on technology investments cut along industry lines. Investments in SCM most impressed executives in the retail and manufacturing industries (with 55 percent and 42 percent of executives in those respective sectors giving it a top ranking), while CRM investments are valued most by executives in financial services, insurance, and real estate companies (with 50 percent of executives in those fields giving CRM a top ranking).

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