International business leaders identify use of an organization's knowledge as most critical factor for success

London, 7 May 2014

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Eight out of ten business leaders believe their future commercial success will be dictated by how they best harness their knowledge — the way they share and apply the insights contained in their people, best practices and operating environment — according to a new survey of 300 business leaders, commissioned by EY. 

The survey of business leaders from across China, Germany, India, UK and US forms part of the report The knowledge advantage, which explores the interplay of the three key factors behind business success in a changing economic environment: bottom-line financials, product and knowledge. The research has identified that knowledge is now rated more highly than the more traditional capabilities of product management and a financially driven focus, with 81% of respondents naming knowledge as a key to their success.

Jeff Green, EY’s Global Knowledge Leader says:

“Business leaders must re-evaluate the traditional drivers of success if they are to prosper. They are increasingly recognizing knowledge not as a “nice to have”, but as a critical success factor. It can drive profit, efficiency and innovation, whether a company is growing in new markets, transforming digitally, managing talent or building environmentally sustainable processes.”

When asked about their successes over the last 12 months, 61% of respondents identified maintaining customer satisfaction as the key driver, with knowledge-related capabilities firmly supporting it. Fifty-seven percent of business leaders said that capturing and using their people’s skills and experiences effectively had been a driver of success, followed by improving understanding of their market, customers and products, which was identified by half of those interviewed.

However, despite the value that leaders recognized in their knowledge-based work, the majority admitted their primary concern over the last 12 months was still the bottom line, with half most worried about the financial issue of having to keep business costs low.

Jeff concludes: “At EY we invest heavily in a dedicated global network of people, systems and processes to bring clients fresh insights by capturing and sharing the knowledge within our business and from the sectors in which we operate. As our survey indicates, technical expertise alone is not enough for success; it is the collective intelligence of organizations that gives them a distinctive edge.”


Notes to Editors

The research was conducted by YouGov Stone in August 2013 across five countries: China, Germany, India, UK and US among a representative sample of 303 C-Suite executives and their direct reports. The survey covered five different sectors: automotive, consumer products (retail/wholesale and leisure), financial services, oil and gas and pharmaceuticals/healthcare. 

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