Irish companies eyeing international expansion and new service lines despite challenges – Deloitte research

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Irish companies eyeing international expansion and new service lines despite challenges – Deloitte research

Finding, hiring and retaining top talent remains the most significant challenge facing Irish businesses, according to a survey of the 2020 Deloitte Best Managed Companies network.

Representatives from almost 100 companies provided their views on key advantages and challenges facing them in 2020 and on their ambitions for growth in the years to come.
Talent acquisition was noted by 57% as their organisations’ biggest challenge, remaining the top challenge when compared to the 2019 results. Geopolitical uncertainty (44%, interestingly up from 37% last year) and the development of new products and services (22%) were the next-highest-rated challenges.

Asked to rate the three most significant factors that give a key advantage in their marketplace, the companies identified excellent customer relationships (54%), unique products / services (46%) and their commitment to continuous improvement (43%) as the highest contributors. A good business strategy also rated highly at 32%. Notably, ‘lower cost than our competitors’ was the lowest-rated factor at 2%.

With regard to the companies’ plans for sustainable future growth, 68% cited the development of existing products and services as their focus for achieving this, followed by strategic alliances and partnerships (55%) and expanding into new product or service lines (54%) as well as international expansion (46%) and acquisitions (39%).

Commenting on the research, Anya Cummins, Partner, Deloitte said: “Our survey results show that Irish businesses are not just surviving but thriving in 2020. It is very interesting that one of the most challenging issues identified by the companies – international expansion – also rated very highly as a key strategy in achieving sustainable future growth. Similarly, the development of new products and services was highly rated as both a challenging issue and as a key growth strategy. This tells us that Irish companies recognise the challenges facing them but aren’t afraid to capitalise on opportunities for success and growth. In fact, the Best Managed Companies judging panel this year noted not only the agility of winning companies against this backdrop, but also the razor sharp focus companies have on achieving their ambitions.
“Despite the fact that we are in a time of unprecedented geopolitical and regulatory uncertainty, talent acquisition still comes out on top in terms of challenges for business. Unemployment rates are continuing to decrease year-on-year, and companies seeking to attract superior talent need to regularly review their people offerings and what makes them an attractive place to work. This year we have seen a real focus amongst winning companies on developing talent. Recognising the importance of upskilling and providing varied and diverse projects for their people is now a key focus, as well as providing structured learning and development opportunities. Driving a more meaningful and purposeful corporate culture has also emerged as a key priority. These are all crucial areas in the fight for 2020’s top talent.”

Companies were also asked what they had reviewed in assessing their current market positioning and reflecting key market drivers in their strategic plans. Research and development (measuring market trends / demand) was cited as the main focus in this process at 56%, ahead of products / projects (19%), cost of production / revenue (11%) and market share (6%).

“Companies need to keep a keen eye on market trends and decide how to respond to change,” Cummins noted. “Readiness to adapt is a vital quality of any leading organisation and can be a catalyst for sustainable growth.”

About the findings

The findings were captured from Deloitte’s network of indigenous companies participating in the Best Managed Companies programme. Deloitte has collated feedback from 97 companies that will requalify as a Best Managed Company in 2020.

About Deloitte Best Managed Companies Awards

The Deloitte Best Managed Companies programme, in association with Bank of Ireland, promotes and recognises excellence in Irish/Northern Irish owned and managed companies. It is the only awards scheme on the island of Ireland that considers a business’ performance from every perspective. Entrants to the programme will compete for this designation in a rigorous and independent process that evaluates the calibre of their management abilities and practices.

Programme sponsors are Bank of Ireland plc, the IMI and the Business Post. For further information, visit www.deloittebestmanaged.ie.

Article Published: 10/03/2020