2020 was a tough year for business heads. They were forced to face and tackle unprecedented challenges, such as – dislocation of supply chains, changes in customer behavior, how their employees worked and ensuring smooth operations even during turbulent times. They had to repurpose supply chains and operations to provide needed supplies and services and take several crucial decisions in the best interest of their business and employees. Despite the COVID-19 bred challenges still being there, the CEOs are pretty much positive about the future. They are increasing investment in digital initiatives and placing their growth bets on new segments. Let’s examine how the CEOs are planning their way ahead and how their priorities have shifted post-COVID-19 pandemic.
Global GDP has fallen by 4.2%, and uncertainty is looming over businesses since the start of the pandemic, but CEOs are betting that mass vaccination programs will thwart the virus in many regions before 2021 ends. This will cause a major economic boom. So several business leaders are already making their moves to take advantage of this fast and sharp recovery.
CEOs explore new markets for growth opportunities
This year, Gartner surveyed 465 business leaders from more than 30 countries to examine the business attitudes and priorities of utmost importance for business leaders. The survey revealed that despite the severe disruption caused by the pandemic, the leaders are still focused on growth. In fact, they look for new avenues for growth. 60% of the leaders surveyed hope to bring their business back to pre-covid times by the end of 2021, while the others expect resurgence by 2022. Just 10% of the leaders are pessimistic about the whole situation and expect no recovery.
Focus on small segments
While the CEOs are looking to new markets for growth opportunities, they are unwilling to take large geographic leaps. Their focus is more on small segments. The leaders in Asia, Europe, and North America see their own regions as the goldmine of growth opportunities.
The CEOs have started emphasizing new areas. For example, the workforce is among their top three priorities now, which indicates that CEOs are mindful of the toll that the crisis took on workers and how their skills and human resources can be utilized to meet their business goals.
One of the areas which have moved down the priority ladder is cost management. The reason why it is no more a priority for the leaders is a 17% year-over-year drop in the share of CEOs who considered it as a priority, from 14% to 11%. Cost management isn’t entirely off the priority list, but it is no more a top priority.
Renewed focus on increasing digital growth
In the Gartner survey, the maximum number of business leaders expressed their commitment to increasing digital capabilities. Other areas that have garnered strong support include people, culture, product enhancements, and IT. The deepest plunges in investment intent were seen in capital equipment and property facilities. Other areas experiencing a plunge in interest levels are – legal, risk management, and compliance.
COVID-19 pandemic has brought to light an entirely new set of questions for business leaders, the focus has shifted to balancing the needs of employees and communities, digital growth, and identifying innovative solutions are some of the top priorities of businesses during this unprecedented economic and humanitarian crisis.