Seven in ten clients cited cost reduction as a challenge in FY 2015, which has declined slightly. While continuous improvement is consistently cited as the top single challenge over the past seven years, there are some important shifts since FY 2009.
Growth, reported by slightly more than five in 10 clients as a challenge and product development/innovation, cited by nearly 47 percent (up from 45 percent), rank second and third respectively.
Nearly 45 percent reported employee recruitment and retention as an important obstacle, which compares to less than 20 percent of the clients previously.
Technology and supply chain needs are more important than they were previously. The share of clients citing technology needs as a challenge rose by 4 percentage points, from roughly 10 percent in 2009 to over 14 percent in 2015. Managing partners (or supply chains) rose by 1 percentage point.
Smaller shares of clients report that growth, sustainability, and financing are important challenges versus seven years ago. For instance, the share of clients identifying financing as a challenge fell from 18 percent in 2009 to roughly 10 percent in 2015. This probably reflects changes in credit becoming more available and the fact that many firms have cleaned up their balance sheets. The declining share of clients saying that growth is an important challenge (even though more than half the clients still cite it as important even now) may likely reflect the uptick in manufacturing activity. The share of clients reporting sustainability fell by 5 percentage points, while the share of clients reporting exporting only fell slightly.