CEOs face major organisational changes and feel their companies are responding less well to those challenges, including new ways to take advantage of technology, according to an IBM survey.

The 2008 survey of more than 1,000 global CEOs found that companies' top leaders ranked change as top business issue. The number of CEOs who say their company is facing substantial change in the next three years checks in at 80 per cent. That is up from 65 per cent in 2006.

While the number of CEOs who say that they face substantial change has risen, their ability to manage that change, according to survey respondents, has decreased. In 2006, 57 per cent of CEOs said they had changed successfully in the past. In the most recent survey, 61 per cent said they had done so.

The top three change drivers, according to the report, are market factors (identified by 48 per cent of respondents), people skills (48 per cent), and technological factors (35 per cent). People skills have continued to grow in importance since 2004 when they weighed in at 42 per cent; such importance is largely due to a growing lack of tech and management talent created by Baby Boomers exiting the workforce, the US report says.

To meet those challenges, many CEOs are adapting their business models. Sixty nine per cent say they are making extensive changes to their company's business models. The study suggests many of these changes will capitalise on virtual technologies and real-time feedback.

Green issues are also becoming more pressing, the study suggests. Customers' expectations around corporate social responsibility are rising, and CEOs are struggling to meet those expectations. CEOs' concern about the environment, in particular, has risen over the last four years, but it is still a big minority around the world. Only 12 per cent of US CEOs say environmental factors are a top business driver, compared to 21 per cent of European and Asia Pacific based CEOs.

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