COVID-19 pandemic no longer top concern for CEOs - report

Businesses now plan how to deal with future disruptions in post-pandemic world

  
Businessman wearing mask in the office for safety during pandemic. Image used for illustrative purpose.

Businessman wearing mask in the office for safety during pandemic. Image used for illustrative purpose.

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The coronavirus pandemic, which put global economies on hold last year, is no longer a top concern for CEOs, according to a new report by global consultancy AlixPartners. 

The firm, which polled 3,000 senior executives for its 2021 Disruption Index, said that business leaders are now more concerned about how other factors like competition, technology, artificial intelligence and regulation impact their company. 

“Despite its acute effect, executives see COVID-19 as being overall less impactful than longer-term business challenges such as automation or environmental concerns,” said Simon Freakley, CEO of AlixPartners. 

Video: COVID-19 no longer a top concern for CEOS

The report did not specify how many CEOs deem COVID-19 impactful to their business, but it pointed out that executives are currently “grappling with multiple, concurrent forces”.  

“Surprisingly, COVID-19 wasn’t the top concern for most businesses. Despite the pandemic’s immediate and pervasive dislocations, [other] numerous disruptors are viewed by executives globally as having higher magnitude and longer-term impact," Freakley added.

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought unprecedented changes to businesses of all sizes around the world, with many forced to shut down, cut jobs and send their workers home. 

Governments, including those in the Middle East region, have rolled out economic stimulus programmes to help struggling companies ride out the effects of the pandemic. 

Disruptive forces, strategies 

AlixPartners’ study examined the attitudes of business leaders toward the so-called “disruptive forces” that impact their company.  

Among the “disruptive forces” that CEOs were asked to rate as very or extremely impactful, new or evolving competition topped the list, followed by technological advances in materials and processes, data privacy and security-related issues, pervasive connective infrastructure and automation or AI. 

At the bottom of the list are protection and tariffs, environmental and social concerns and COVID-19. 

Executives, however, believe that the changes caused by the COVID-19 outbreak are permanent. And, in order to respond to future disruptions in a post-pandemic world, executives are now planning strategies to protect their business. 

More than half (53 percent) said they are now investing in new technology, while 42 percent are entering or exiting a new market or region. 

About 39 percent are also reviewing operating costs to improve efficiency, while 38 percent are entering or exiting a new industry or field. 

In terms of manpower, 35 percent are making strategic hiring decisions. About a third (31 percent) are also engaging in mergers and acquisitions, while 29 percent are shifting to a more remote workforce. 

(Reporting by Cleofe Maceda; editing by Seban Scaria) 

Cleofe.maceda@refinitiv.com 

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