Press release

Bain & Company’s survey of global executives points to increased use of management tools to acclerate growth amid positive economic tailwinds

Bain & Company’s survey of global executives points to increased use of management tools to acclerate growth amid positive economic tailwinds

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  • June 10, 2015
  • min read

Press release

Bain & Company’s survey of global executives points to increased use of management tools to acclerate growth amid positive economic tailwinds


New York – June 10, 2015 – Bain & Company today revealed the results of its 14th biennial index of 25 of the most popular management tools and trends.  More than 1,000 senior executives representing companies of all sizes in North America, Europe, Latin America and Asia-Pacific responded to the 2015 survey, Management Tools & Trends, which found that executives are more confident in the global economy and their company's financial performance than they've been in the recent past.  As a result, they are leaning more heavily on management tools to advance their longer-term growth strategies.  Nearly half of the firms surveyed said they are looking to new tools to tackle pressing management challenges, such as increased business complexity, cyber-attacks and waning customer loyalty. 

Darrell Rigby, a leader in Bain's Strategy Practice and head of the firm's Global Retail Practice, founded and launched the study in 1993 and has since compiled the results of more than 13,000 survey respondents and more than 300 interviews to create the most comprehensive management trends database of its kind.


Future Tool Trends: The popularity and usage of specific management tools changes over time. Certain tools such as Strategic Planning, Benchmarking and Mission and Vision Statements demonstrate consistent staying power and have been in the top 10 since they first appeared in the survey in the early and mid-1990s.  The data show that others, such as Total Quality Management, are used far less today than they were 20 years ago, suggesting that some tools follow life cycles similar to many consumer products:

  • Half of the executives surveyed say that over the next three years they will focus more on revenue growth than cost cutting. This may be one reason for the increasing popularity of Big Data Analytics, which can help companies more effectively segment and target customers.
  • Established market firms continue to lean toward using more traditional tools such as Benchmarking and Employee Engagement Surveys.
  • Emerging market firms have been early champions of new tools such as Big Data Analytics, Digital Transformation and Disruptive Innovation Labs. 

Business Challenges: While executives are feeling more positive generally about the overall state of the economy, they cite increased complexity, the threat of cyber-attack, increased IT spending demands and the erosion of customer loyalty as front-burner challenges.

  • Increasing complexity: Two-thirds of executives surveyed believe that increasing complexity will contribute to higher costs that will hinder company growth.
  • Cyber-attacks: The threat of cyber-attack has become a legitimate concern for more than half of the executives surveyed, particularly in North America and Asia-Pacific and in the Healthcare and Financial Services sectors, which collect and utilize sensitive customer data that can be attractive to cyber-criminals.
  • IT spending: 64 percent believe that over the next three years, IT spending must increase to keep up with the rapid pace of change and to remain competitive; and 42 percent of executives feel that current IT infrastructure, which is often burdened with legacy systems, also restrain growth.
  • Customer loyalty:  Executives continue to be concerned with customers' declining brand loyalty.  About two-thirds of respondents feel that customers are less loyal to brands than they used to be.
  • Growth strategy:  Six in ten executives believe that mergers and acquisitions will be a critical growth strategy in their industry.

Tool Usage Trends: Companies deploy a wide and ever-shifting array of management tools to address business challenges and capture business opportunities. However, different segments weight the use and satisfaction of various tools largely based on company size, scope of effort and geography. Across all regions, larger companies use the greatest number of tools, but North American executives were generally less satisfied than their Asia-Pacific counterparts. Also, executives expressed more satisfaction when using tools for major efforts such as full scale transformations than programs more limited in scope. Finally, outsourcing and change management, although widely used, produced the lowest satisfaction scores while Big Data Analytics received the highest satisfaction scores.

  • The size of the management effort is critical to determining tool satisfaction. For instance, Balanced Scorecard, a strategic non-financial measurement system that when used with traditional financial measures gives managers a more "balanced" view of their organization, tied as the third highest rated tool when used on major initiatives,.  However, it tied for 18th when used on a limited basis.  This gap emphasizes the importance of implementing some tools across the organization with top-down support.
  • The highest rated tool is Big Data Analytics; more than half of surveyed executives say that Advanced Analytics are transforming their marketing strategy.
  • Asia-Pacific executives were much more satisfied with the majority of tools than their North American and European counterparts
  • Complexity Management was not a highly used tool even though increasing complexity was identified as one of most pressing business challenges.

Editor's Note: To schedule an interview with the survey author, Mr. Rigby, please contact: Dan Pinkney at or +1 646 562 8102

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