The uncertainty of
COVID-19 is perhaps the most challenging crisis decision-makers have had to
find responses to, in the 21st century. From state-owned to multinational, from
conglomerates to startups, decision-makers are faced with strategic ambiguity
like never before.
contingencies that are in place and the degree to which the organizations
adapt, there is still unprecedented challenges faced by today’s
Intelligence conducted a survey with 241 C-level decision-makers of the
corporate sector to understand their perspective on the challenges they face.
The CEO Pulse Survey strived to identify the best practices to adopt during the
pandemic, and the business transformation required to operate, post-pandemic.
The survey consisted
of four areas of focus: the current strategic challenges faced, the predictive
on the market, the predictive on the consumer and strategies likely to be
adapted to face the challenges. The survey found an impetus for change in all
aspects of a business.
49% of the respondents
saw 'securing of financials for business continuity' being a challenge
post-COVID-19. Added stresses on the financial system could see businesses
facing difficulties accessing debt markets.
With many CEOs
reporting a drop in staff motivation levels, securing human resources and
providing them with the technology to allow for optimum performance remotely
have taken centre stage. 35% of the respondents find the securing of staff
difficult while 39% of the participants identify laying the infrastructure for
remote work challenging.
report that most companies are operating at around 30% of their capacity. This
appears to have a direct impact on the stress on securing financials, and
employee demotivation and retention. As operations run the risk of stagnating,
the lack of clarity in the operating environment has made it difficult for
executives to plan.
predictive on the market
48% of the business
leaders report closure to key markets and buyers. With falling revenue
forecasts, businesses will have to rely on new channels to meet their key
When they regain
access to these key markets, the ban on imports and lower operating capacity
could still act as deterrents against business growth. Business executives will
be expected to think in parallel with their key stakeholders.
Businesses that strike
a healthy balance between creating and supplying consumer demand, ensure staff
welfare and alignment with national best practices for trade will be able to
systematically gain access to key markets while at the same time strengthening
their supply chains.
predictive on the consumer
Consumer behaviour can
be expected to change in times like these. 62% of business leaders believed
that general consumption patterns would decrease owing to the lack of buying
power. 46% expect lower spend on entertainment and leisure.
With all global,
local, online and offline media outlets sharing information about the
fluctuations in health and economic conditions, consumers have been
experiencing high levels of anxiety about their physical, mental and financial
likely to be adapted to face challenges
Businesses will focus
on alternative means of adding and distributing value to the customer (in
quantities that they can afford). 78% of business leaders predict that these
effects would last at least for the next 6 months. Especially for entertainment
and leisure sector executives, the situation would demand aggressive action in
pivoting resources and innovating solutions.
need to re-look at transforming business processes, especially to reinstate
staff motivation levels and to establish favourable remote-working cultures.
Employees can be expected to juggle between physically attending office and
working remotely. As such, creating and maintaining COVID-19 compliant
worksites and offices, laying out infrastructure and operating system for
remote work, and fostering lateral thinking skills among employees will take
While providing the
right environment for employees to flourish, businesses need to adopt stringent
measures to run a business. Ability to avoid clashes between the two objectives
would define a successful approach to business transformation. This would
require constant checking in with key stakeholders.
(especially on importing) will see businesses that collaborate and innovate, succeed.
The environment is ripe for innovation in new digital product/service
placements and fulfilment. The main imperative for leaders would be to strike a
balance between decentralization and maintaining information safety.
In this defining
juncture in world history, those who are agile in responding to the crisis, at
the speed of the crisis, will survive. While some will not make it through,
most CEOs remain optimistic about the future, which is a glimmer of hope for