The 360° Value Performance Index measures a company’s strength across six dimensions: Financial, Customer, Supply Chain & Operations, Talent, Sustainability, and Technology.
Comparing all six dimensions of the 360° Value Performance Index for Swiss companies with the results of their peers in the rest of Europe and North America, we find that they excel in terms of financial performance. The scores show that the organizations outpace competing companies in all other regions.
Swiss organizations can also look positively on their comparatively solid position, despite not leading the way, in the areas of Sustainability, Customer, and Talent.
However, there are some points of attention for Swiss companies: Supply Chain & Operations Risk and Technology.
TALENT – A RESPECTABLE PERFORMANCE, BUT EU PEERS DO BETTER
SUPPLY CHAIN & OPERATIONS RISK – THREE TOP CHALLENGES
TECHNOLOGY – ARE SWISS COMPANIES UNDERINVESTING?
We analyzed the financial performance of Swiss companies using the Altman Z-Score. Our results show that leaders have reason to be content and optimistic about their economic resilience in 2022. Specifically, Swiss companies outperformed their European and US peers regarding growth, margin, and liquidity. On average, Swiss organizations scored 1.2 times higher than US enterprises and 1.7 times higher than European companies on the Altman Z-Score. Overall, Swiss organizations performed outstandingly well. They were ahead of their competitors in four out of five indicators, with the only exception being EBIT on assets, where they were slightly behind the Americans.
However, it is essential to consider whether financial resilience is enough for sustained growth. Do Swiss companies focus solely on optimizing their costs and operations, or do they invest in new products, services, and markets to drive change?
Environmental, social, and governance (ESG) values are significant in Swiss companies: Since 2020, they have regularly surpassed their European peers. That stands to reason, as almost all Swiss executives (92%) say they have integrated ESG into their decision-making, compared to 78% in Europe and 80% in the US.1
The data also show that Swiss organizations score highest on the environmental component (65.5 out of 100 in 2022). Still, an analysis of Swiss companies suggests that none will meet their targets by 2050 if they maintain the current pace of emission reduction.2 Only with accelerated measures could 79% of the companies still reach their net zero targets, which is in line with global data.3, 4
The top challenges are:1
The affordability of the necessary technology (39% vs. 31% of global companies)
The difficulty in measuring and reporting impact (37% vs. 29% of global companies)
The need for more expertise in developing specific technology (35% vs. 30% of global companies).
Swiss companies outperform their European counterparts when sustaining sales and growing a loyal customer base. But they lag behind their US counterparts. Furthermore, 60% of consumers state their priorities constantly change due to global events. Therefore, Swiss companies must adapt to this new reality and acknowledge that new technologies are changing the relationship between companies and consumers.5
The global surveys of 1,700 leaders conducted in 2022 for the Accenture Life Centricity Playbook found that more than 95% of B2B and B2C executives believe their customers are changing faster than their businesses.
Swiss companies must address these shifts in customer base and demand. For Swiss executives they are the second-highest priority in the short-term (next 6-12 months), just behind tech strategy and digital transformation.1
The scarcity of skilled workers and the impact of immigration laws have forced Swiss companies to enhance their talent management strategies. They are investing in employee development programs, promoting flexible work arrangements, and fostering a culture of employee engagement. Still, there is room for improvement compared to their European peers.
Despite these efforts, the Swiss Skills Shortage Index6 is at an all-time high, and job vacancies remain 1.5 times higher than in 2019. Furthermore, according to the survey7, 36% of Swiss companies’ top executives prioritize people strategies to address talent and skill shortages, making it the most pressing concern for Swiss businesses in the next two years.
The human element makes a critical difference in success. Accenture research shows that only by combining data, technology, and people, do companies stand to gain an increase of up to 11% in top-line productivity.8
We analyzed how diversified companies' footprint is for both sales and supply and weighed the geopolitical risk associated with that footprint. We found that Swiss companies carry a high level of risk. In 2022, a panel of over 90 Swiss companies derived only 23% of their revenues from the Swiss market and had an average of six geographical business segments.9
Swiss companies' revenue generation is in line with their supply complexity. However, their sizeable international business focus brings inherent supply chain complexities, which are partly specific and different from other global organizations.
Swiss leaders are addressing these issues. For instance, an overwhelming 88% say they mitigate risks associated with a global supply chain through geographically diversifying manufacturing and suppliers. Also, 90% increasingly leverage digital technology to connect the end-to-end value chain.1
Digital transformation, data, and AI are not among the top 10 topics Swiss companies’ leaders mention in their earning calls.
The 360° Value Performance Index shows that Swiss companies lag behind their counterparts in the US and their European peers. The data indicate that Swiss enterprises invest less in transformation initiatives than their peers in other regions1.
Moreover, the extent of this gap needs to be considered. For example, 83% of Swiss companies view their technology strategies as a means to positively transform their business model and organization digitally. That compares to 78% among other European and 82% among US executives.
As the new Total Enterprise Reinvention study10 explains, robust technology capabilities and a solid digital foundation are crucial in gaining a competitive edge. As a result, companies need to reinvent themselves by leveraging technology to reach a new performance frontier level.
Where and how to act now
Resources are limited and companies ultimately must decide where to invest. Our analyses show that in four of the dimensions presented, the opportunities and risks for Swiss companies in the coming months will be substantial.
In the following, we take a closer look at the central fields of action, give recommendations, and introduce examples.
Sustainability – Swiss companies leading the way
In the race to net zero, Swiss companies have a head start. They are in a unique position – if they can defend it.
A DEEP DIVE INTO SCOPE 3 EMISSIONS
TAKE ACTION FOR YOUR SCOPE 3 UPSTREAM CHALLENGES
To meet the 1.5 °C reduction target, global greenhouse gas emissions will need to be cut by 60% between 2019 to 203511. And that requires significant change.
Our net zero research discovered that 50% of the 38 large Swiss companies in our sample have set net zero targets. They are currently working to reduce their direct and indirect emissions in their operations (Scope 1 and 2). Emissions in their value chain (Scope 3), which are beyond their direct control, are the next step.
Although proactively reducing Scope 3 emissions can be costly, there are several benefits:
Increasing transparency and collaboration across the supply chain can boost resilience to disruptions.
Joint efforts within the supply chain on research and development, product design, and low-carbon technologies can lead to a competitive advantage.
Some Scope 3 activities complement operational excellence and efficiency, leading to cost savings – for example, through energy efficiency improvements and waste reduction.
Supply Chain – Swiss companies continue to be exposed
The acute supply problems have been solved for the time being, but Swiss companies should not rest on their laurels now. They have to completely reinvent their supply chain to defy global instability.
GLOBAL RISKS JEOPARDIZE BUSINESS RESILIENCE
REIMAGINE YOUR SUPPLY CHAIN
MODERN SUPPLY CHAIN SUCCESSES
Swiss companies are highly exposed to supply chain risks. Although the pressure on the global supply chain has now eased12, a number of underlying threats remain, from geopolitical instability to financial crises and climate change.
Swiss companies operate internationally and have a reputation for providing high- quality goods and services with exceptional service levels. This requires innovation and the ability to adapt to change. Potential revenue losses, impact on growth and efficiency, and consequences beyond the direct cost of goods sold (COGS), transportation, warehousing, labor, and ESG compliance are all at stake.
The call for a complete reinvention of the supply chain is loud and clear. Organizational models and processes must be systematically improved, while the adoption of new technologies and capabilities must be accelerated. Only then can Swiss companies be resilient in the event of systemic disruption.
Meeting these demands is essential because customers expect nothing less.
Install intelligent visibility: Gather data and analyze potential points of supply chain network failure, bottlenecks, and revenue at risk. The MIT Stress Test can help.
Build resilient global networks: Opt for multi-polar network design, including near-shoring, multi- sourcing, and enabling network optimization, tackling the ecological footprint of products.
Run a supply chain control tower: Connect all silos (planning, logistics, etc.), enabling end-to-end customer-centric and sustainable decisions.
Hyper-automate: Explore generative AI, which offers numerous use cases across the supply chain: inventory optimization, spend analysis, predictive maintenance, product design, procurement, and warehousing.
Manage global trade changes with agility: Changes in trade agreements and increasingly complex tariff regimes require companies to closely monitor each development and create flexible supply chain strategies to seize opportunities and be ready for potential trade risks.
Tier 1 automotive supplier bolsters its supply chain
The automotive supplier was struggling to achieve rapid V-shaped COVID-19 recovery. It then mapped its entire n-tier supplier network and created a digital twin of its supply chain with over 3,500 components, more than 300 tier-1 suppliers, and 400+ tier-n suppliers. As a result, critical incident risk assessments now take merely one hour.
The supplier’s efforts to improve the resilience of its supply chain have reduced lost revenue by an estimated $160 to $260 million every three to four years while providing intelligent visibility into ESG compliance.
Agrochemical company implements an end-to-end approach to global trade
The company is addressing customs and foreign trade by implementing a new technology-enabled operating model for global business. It is preparing for potential trade risks and achieving annual duty savings of more than 5% and a 50% reduction in customs clearance time.
While the urgent need for skilled talent continues to grow, the skills required by organizations are changing dramatically.
SKILLS FOR A NEW ERA
LET’S GET PRACTICAL
Swiss companies need to address the talent and skills shortages strategically, taking into account some key trends.
Ever-changing skillset: The skills requirements of the workforce are changing at an accelerated pace as technology advances. For instance, our analysis13 shows that large language models impact almost all categories of jobs: they can automate or augment the tasks of Swiss workers by an average of 36%.
Job mobility: In 2022, 16% of workers changed jobs14 – with 24% planning to switch, and only 40% reporting job satisfaction15.
Employer factors: On average, attractive salary and benefits are the most important factors when choosing an employer. However, Gen Z is more concerned with having a good working atmosphere, career development (61%), and good training (52%). Also, 72% of Swiss employees expect a hybrid working model soon.14
Transparency: More and more Swiss rely on employer rating platforms for company insights, enhancing accountability and negotiation readiness.
Swiss companies can adapt to this environment:
Boost upskilling and reskilling: Companies need to place as much emphasis on people and their training as on ever-changing technology. They can gain a competitive advantage by continuously training their team using digital tools. This will enable them to make the most of technological developments such as cloud and AI, and modernize their toolset.
Drive talent acquisition: To keep up with the changing landscape, distinct values, and shorter job tenure of Gen Z, Swiss companies need to become faster, more efficient, and more attractive. HR departments must improve their acquisition, sourcing, recruiting, and onboarding strategies to win and retain top talent.
Build a solid value proposition: Companies must build a compelling value proposition that can be experienced in real life and online. Increasing awareness of their unique values is especially important for smaller companies that need to find new ways to attract talent.
In a world where consumers are becoming increasingly multi-layered individuals with distinct needs and desires, companies must harness technology to deeply understand them, harmonize experiences, and meet these ever-evolving demands.
A NEW UNDERSTANDING OF PEOPLE
DESIGNING A DELIGHTFUL EXPERIENCE CONTINUUM
FROM BRICK-AND-MORTAR TO DIGITAL POWERHOUSE
Our research uncovers that customers are becoming increasingly multi-dimensional, ever-changing individuals with unique needs16. In response, the approach will shift towards gaining a deeper understanding of people, moving beyond traditional product-centric and customer-centric methods.
While technology is key to this transformation, it has inadvertently introduced new challenges to the customer experience. Over the years, companies have adopted numerous technologies to serve specific silos, such as marketing or sales, but often failed to consider the interconnectedness of these functions. Both user and customer experience suffered from this development. They need to be rethought.
At the same time, generative AI-based tools enable companies to take marketing and customer experience to a whole new level17. But taking advantage of the opportunities bears risks as well.
Swiss companies need to shift away from one-size-fits-all solutions and services, and instead embrace tailored approaches that cater to the unique needs and desires of their customers.
These actions can help:
Use tech to deepen customer understanding: Combine human and machine intelligence to gain deep insights into each customer and the interdependent forces that drive them.
Address different roles: Cater to customers' individual needs beyond transactions, acknowledging their multiple roles as parents, citizens, students, and more.
Simplify the experience: Streamline the customer journey by reducing barriers, friction points, and complexity in internal processes, ensuring an intuitive and seamless customer experience.
Break down barriers: Remove boundaries between marketing and commerce, as well as between retail and online realms.
Use customer data responsibly: Protect customers from potential harm, including data breaches and privacy violations caused by AI-based systems.
Globally leading retailer transforms customer touchpoints
A renowned retailer realized that the days of its traditional brick-and-mortar business would soon be over. Customer expectations had fundamentally changed. The company’s ambitious goal: to transform itself into a world-leading digital retailer.
To achieve this, a harmonized IT platform ecosystem was to replace numerous customized, isolated applications. Moreover, silos between IT and business departments had to be broken.
Once the UX, UI, and necessary business processes were defined, the company rolled out best-of-breed standard solutions for each use case for experience platform, customer experience and cloud.
Today, the company can evaluate e-commerce performance in detail and better tailor offers regionally and locally. Customers, in turn, perceive the brand in a consistent and personalized way, ranging from the website to apps, newsletters, and leaflets.
Staying ahead of the technology curve
Swiss companies outperform their North American and European peers in terms of profitability. However, the Swiss Top500 report highlights that customer expectations are rising and becoming increasingly difficult to predict. Moreover, all aspects of sustainability are becoming more important. In addition, supply chain resilience is critical, and employees expect precisely the same technological tools they have at home.
To survive and thrive in this environment, investing in the right technology at the right time and at the right level is essential. Fortunately, with proper preparation and foresight, technology can help drive success.
1 Accenture Business Strengths survey, Oct-Nov 2022
2 Accenture Research analysis of a panel of 24 Swiss companies, among the largest 2,000 companies worldwide, reporting emissions for at least five times over the 2011-2020 period.
3 The “Accelerated Action scenario” reflects the pace of emissions reduction of mitigation pathways compatible with 1.5 °C, as developed by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).
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The six dimensions explained
The 360° Value Performance Index scores provide insight into how the average company in a particular country compares to its industry peers, offering signals of strength across multiple dimensions:
The ability to sustain a healthy balance sheet. We measure it through the Altman Z-Score.
The ability to sustain and grow sales and a loyal customer base.
The ability to attract a diverse and inclusive workforce, providing flexible schemes and training focused on developing the right skills for now and the future.
Supply Chain & Operations Risk
Economic and geopolitical risks related to the geographic footprint of the supplier and sales network.
The ability to embed environmental, social, and governance (ESG) measures and practices across the organization.
Investment in data, AI, and cloud applications and infrastructure required to drive agility and innovation at scale, as well as investments to safeguard technology systems.
Unlocking 360° Value
Swiss executives have set their agendas right. They have identified most areas for growth and action and are driving forward strategically important measures.
Sustainability is one of the biggest opportunities, and not just for cost savings. In this respect, Switzerland holds a unique position in global competition. The task now is to invest consistently in reducing Scope 3 emissions. The highly interconnected supply chains are already a greater challenge: They must be redesigned in an agile, lean, and automated way if companies do not want to lose their market position. And this is happening while the labor market and its requirements are undergoing fundamental change.
The 360° added value is within reach for Swiss companies. But to achieve it, new efforts are needed. The recommendations presented here can help lead the way.
Now it’s over to you to implement them.
Marco Huwiler, Country Managing Director Switzerland
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