Creativity is one of the most influential forces driving today’s global economy, according to the first annual C-Factors Index survey from MDC Partners and its Allison & Partners subsidiary, which polled leading CEOs, CMOs and other senior executives. Three-quarters (76 percent) of respondents cite creativity as among the top elements they are looking to harness to advance their business in the year ahead.

Those surveyed viewed creativity as an increasingly important element in their own communications programs and as a mechanism for driving business performance, with 64 percent requiring creativity in communications to generate optimum business results. Forty-one percent of respondents are looking to rely on it as an agent for building future market share, and 30 percent see it as vital for success in globalization efforts.

Those surveyed were also clear in describing creativity’s rapid expansion beyond the communications function to many other facets of business. Twenty-seven percent of respondents defined creativity as relentless reinvention, 23 percent cited it as organizational agility, and 23 percent referred to it as the culture of collaboration.

“Our research shows creativity emerging as the global economy’s most vital currency today and as among the top drivers of improved business performance,” says Scott Allison, co-founder and CEO of Allison & Partners. “We’re now seeing creativity pushing outside the walls of the communications function where it has traditionally resided to other areas within leading organizations. We’re also interested to see how communications professionals, who are most comfortable with the power and agility of creativity, will partner with other operational areas within these companies to impact business strategy development.”

The survey also noted that an overwhelming number of respondents think that we have entered the “imagination economy,” an economic ecosystem that is increasingly rewarding ideas over intake, and places a premium on those brands and companies that induce and create societal benefit. This new economy is pushing senior executives to look to creativity to help reinvent their roles and the value they can bring to the organization overall.

This emphasis on creativity as a core business driver is likely attributable to the role creativity and innovative communications are playing in globalization and expansion into new markets, with 68 percent of respondents citing creativity as an important engine to inspire new world economic growth.

According to the survey, the current creativity revolution is spurring a shift in the world’s center of economic gravity from West to East, as many respondents cited the emergence of new economies as the creative and entrepreneurial hubs of tomorrow. Respondents singled out Africa as the market to watch, citing that its current lack of infrastructure would force leapfrog momentum in creativity and technology. Other markets highlighted for growth were Southeast Asia and the Middle East.