Time to contribute to the big picture

Time has been turned on its head. But we don’t know exactly which way is up or down, because the forces that affect us humans and our world are pulling in different directions. They present us with ever new and more complex tasks. They define our agenda for 2022 and motivate us to find a new equation with a common denominator.

Technological disruption, climate change, geopolitical fragmentation, demographic shifts, social tensions and the pandemic: these developments are more than a direct hammer blow affecting many people and businesses around the globe. They also leave traces, fallout and collateral damage and have long-term consequences. What’s more, they initiate or accelerate change, which in turn has a significant impact on our economic, regulatory, political and social environment. 

With this in mind and based on the findings of the last year, we see the following topics as central for those bearing responsibility and making decisions in 2022:

1. Making use of talent

Employers need to strengthen their relationships with employees and focus more on diversity and inclusion.

There’s a shortage of skilled workers and talent in all sectors of the economy, and even more so since the economy has been picking up speed again in the post-pandemic year of 2021. Nevertheless, some companies fail to exploit their potential or overlook hidden talent. Others don’t match existing skill sets with the required competences, or are lagging behind when it comes to digital innovation. Many have also not used much foresight when designing their upskilling programmes.

This has to change. As employers, we need to strengthen our relationships with our employees, fine-tune our upskilling programmes and focus more on diversity and inclusion. Not only do we need to look for successors, but also for female successors and female managers – after all, they make up 50% of our talent pool. Ultimately, what we need are flexible hybrid working models with a meaningful value proposition. These involve employees in shaping a culture of trust, and hold them accountable. This is the only way to meet the demand of younger generations for a life balance, rather than a work-life balance.

2. Strengthening supply chains

Building better resilience should be on top of the agenda.

With increasing complexity and digital networking, the risks of international supply chains are growing. The Internet of Things, standardised and automated processes and web-based platforms have brought production, supply, distribution and buyers closer together. Yet dependencies on suppliers or individual supply regions, a shortage of raw materials or semi-finished products and the pandemic-related acceleration of digitalisation have made global supply chains more vulnerable.

This is an issue that we as business people must consciously address. We need to take our value chain apart link by link, recognise the associated risks like cyber-attacks or monopoly situations, and develop alternatives for them. In doing so, we should focus on building better resilience in 2022 and avoid losing valuable sales – through our inability to meet the renewed increase in demand, for example. We also need to prevent cost increases in the value chain eroding our margins because we can’t raise the prices of our products fast enough or to the full extent. 

3. Stepping up climate protection

Business leaders should go further in tackling climate change and step up the pursuit of net zero, diversity and sustainable social responsibility.

Climate change was another big issue in 2021, following closely behind the Covid-19 pandemic. Last year proved that climate protection measures are no longer simply a matter of paying lip service. Companies and organisations are more committed than ever before. That’s because sustainable behaviour is no longer just good for the environment, but also makes sense economically and socially. Sustainability is now considered to be one of the main competitive advantages – something that’s also slowly becoming evident in the margins.

This is a pleasing development, but it isn’t enough. That’s why the member states of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change agreed, at the 26th World Climate Conference in Glasgow (COP26), to accelerate the implementation of the Paris Climate Agreement. We business leaders should also go further in tackling climate change and step up our pursuit of net zero, diversity and sustainable social responsibility. After all, climate change is and remains a global threat, and it’s only by working together that we can find a solution for it and reach the target of 1.5°C – hand in hand with regulators, financiers and everybody who lives on our planet.

4. Moving forward digitally

There’s still more to be done: more benefits for customers, more future sustainability for companies.

Actually, the topic of digitisation should be a non-issue by now. That’s because it’s part of our reality, as the pandemic so clearly demonstrated. In 2021, there was hardly a single organisation that hadn’t digitised its processes, offerings or forms of collaboration. The digital transformation has reached all stages of value creation, from the buying and consumption behaviour of customers, production and administration through to distribution and cooperation. The entire customer experience today is digitally inspired, and is even completely virtual in some industries.

Yet even here, there’s still more to be done: more benefits for customers, more future sustainability for companies. To achieve this, not only do we need intelligent computers to carry out manual operations, but we should also look into using digital tools and technologies in all core and support areas. The transformation of the finance function is a good example of how a company can exploit the opportunities offered by digital disruption by completely redefining an entire function, from number crunching to trailblazing. 

5. Sharpening the focus

It’s worth thinking about which business areas make a company unique, which areas hold them back and which activities cause them to get bogged down.

The events and developments of 2021, the second year of the pandemic, have led some companies to question their business models and to redefine themselves strategically. This has resulted in restructuring, financing measures, flotations, acquisitions, sales, mergers and separations of business units. Currently, there’s a tendency to focus on the core activities – away from conglomerates and towards a clearly defined core business.

These considerations and strategic decisions are essential in turbulent times. It’s worth thinking about which business areas make us unique, which ones hold us back and which activities cause us to get bogged down. Some products or services are only successful when they’re produced or provided by the right company – because that’s where they fit exactly into the overall picture. 

6. Conclusion: Challenge accepted

The tasks described above have one thing in common: they require everyone involved to have confidence in achieving them. They also have measurable results. Gaining and maintaining trust is never more difficult than in an era of uncertainty. Also, achieving sustainable results in an environment where competition is fierce and expectations are sky-high has always been considered the supreme discipline of entrepreneurship.

As great as the challenge may be, we at PwC are determined to take it on. We draw this confidence from the talent inherent in our own company. As service providers, we serve an overarching goal and contribute to the bigger picture. Solving problems and delivering results is part of our DNA, so to speak.

An equation that works

On the subject of DNA, we’re experts in numbers so we naturally view this big picture as an equation. On one side is our work, and on the other side are trust and sustainable solutions. We’re calling this ‘The New Equation’.

By bringing together multidisciplinary teams, making smart use of technology and drawing on extensive expertise – be it in sustainability, auditing, value creation, tax, transformation or a multitude of other areas – we help you, our valued clients, to gain the trust of your key dialogue groups and of society. We also help you achieve sustainable results for the benefit of the community. You’ll certainly be hearing a lot more about ‘The New Equation’ from us in the months to come.

We sincerely thank you for your loyal cooperation and for contributing to far-sighted discussions in the past year. We hope to have further face-to-face meetings and valuable conversations, and trust that 2022 will bring you confidence and sustainable outcomes, both professionally and personally.


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Contact us

Alex Astolfi

Alex Astolfi

Partner and Assurance Leader, PwC Switzerland

Tel: +41 58 792 81 95

Andreas Staubli

Andreas Staubli

CEO, PwC Switzerland

Tel: +41 58 792 44 72

Dieter Wirth

Dieter Wirth

Managing Partner; Leader Tax, Legal & HR Services Switzerland, PwC Switzerland

Tel: +41 58 792 44 88

Gustav Baldinger

Gustav Baldinger

Partner and Advisory Services Leader, PwC Switzerland

Tel: +41 58 792 16 13

Julie Fitzgerald Wieland

Julie Fitzgerald Wieland

Partner and Leader Finance Transformation and Growth & Markets, PwC Switzerland

Tel: +41 58 792 26 80

Norbert Kühnis

Norbert Kühnis

Leiter Familienunternehmen und KMU, Mitglied der Geschäftsleitung, PwC Switzerland

Tel: +41 58 792 63 63