RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, N.C. – Chief executive officers realize they must embrace change if their companies are to survive in the 21st century, especially when dealing with “information omnivore” and “socially minded” customers, according to a new IBM survey.

In other words, “green” as in environmentally friendly and sustainability are not fads.

And people are becoming more like the T-Rex when it comes to data needs and consumption.

However, rather than feeling threatened by change more than 83 percent of the CEOS participating in the “Enterprise of the Future” survey say they are optimistic about the challenges of change. They also see change as an opportunity to develop competitive advantage.

There’s a huge caveat, though. In what IBM called a “change gap,” 22 percent of CEOs say they have lowered their expectations about how their companies and organizations can deal with change.

“CEOs point specifically to their own customer base as the source of the most important changes they will have to address, as two new and more demanding classes of customers emerged: the ‘information omnivore’, and the ‘socially-minded’ customer,” IBM said in the survey, results of which were disclosed Tuesday. “Of all the trends identified in the study, surveyed CEOs plan their most substantial increases in investment in response to these customer sets.”

The IBM survey is in-depth to say the least, based on face-to-face interviews with 1,130 CEOs in 40 countries and representing 32 industries.

Here’s how IBM defines the “Information Ominivore” – someone who: “craves all types of information and often broadcasts its views and expectations worldwide via the Internet. These customers are swapping passive roles for much deeper involvement.”

As for the socially conscious customer: “Customers are coalescing around organizations’ [corporate social responsibility] CSR profile – including, but not limited to ‘green’ initiatives — and are increasingly demanding socially-minded products, services, and even supply chains.”

So what does perpetual change that embraces the challenge of meeting growing demands for information in a socially conscious way mean for today’s – and tomorrow’s – CEOs?

“The enterprise of the future accepts change as a permanent state in an organization. Those CEOs who demonstrate the capacity to manage major change know they can beat the competition by reaching new classes of customers, and making bold moves to shift business design around principles of global integration,” said Ginni Rometty, the senior vice president for IBM Global Business Services. Her group conducted the surveys. “And it’s clear that out-performers are distancing their enterprises from the competition based on their organizational capacity to take advantage of change.”

As if Sarbanes Oxley wasn’t a big enough headache already!