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PwC: Bright economic outlook spurs stronger capital investment at private companies

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In asking a subset of private-company leaders about their technology investments, the survey found the following:

  • Seventy-five percent of Trendsetter companies believe technological advances will deliver a moderate-to-major impact on their operations over the next several years, with 44 percent of respondents expecting a major impact.  
  • Seventy percent of companies plan to invest in technology that will automate operations and increase productivity.
  • Sixty percent plan to strengthen their cybersecurity.
  • Fifty-seven percent say they'll devote their IT dollars to data management and analytics.
  • Forty-two percent expect to focus their tech spending on researching and engaging customers.

Meanwhile, the number or private companies voicing concern about headwinds continues to decline for the most part. Lack of demand still looms largest among private companies' anticipated barriers to growth (cited by 59% of companies), but less so than a year ago, dropping six points. The biggest declines were in the number of companies registering concern about legislative/regulatory pressures (42% of companies voiced this, down 13 points from a year ago) and increased taxation (22 % of companies, down 15 points).

Private Companies Seek Talent through New Business Initiatives

Finding qualified workers continues to challenge private companies, with nearly one-third of the survey respondents citing this as a barrier to growth. And so although a healthy 56% of Trendsetter private companies say they'll add employees in the coming year, they intend to do so conservatively, planning to increase their headcount by just 1.8% as they continue to search for the right people with the right skills – at the right place and cost

The search for skilled workers is affecting more than just private companies' HR policies. It's influencing a variety of business initiatives, too. For instance, when geographically expanding Trendsetter businesses were asked why they're heading into new U.S. markets, they said that tapping a better skills base was their top reason. They reported much the same when asked why they're pursuing M&A, joint ventures, and strategic alliances – 54% said their chief objective was to access skilled employees.

"The survey results remind us that workforce planning needs to be tied closely to a company's business objectives," says Esch. "The overall number of anticipated hires may be small, but if the vacancies are for critical roles? An inability to fill those could quickly turn into a growth obstacle for businesses."

For the full report, click here.  

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