Despite economic uncertainty and unprecedented challenges arising from the pandemic, 60 percent of the U.S. CEOs we surveyed recently told us they’re more confident about their company’s growth prospects than they were at the start of the year, and 74 percent are seizing opportunities to accelerate the digital transformation of their businesses.
But they also see a multitude of risks to future growth apart from the pandemic — with talent risk becoming front and center in the current environment.
Based on a pulse survey of 100 leading U.S CEOs, and my conversations with business leaders here in Texas and across the nation, many organizations are taking extraordinary measures to weather the economic disruption from COVID-19 and respond to the needs of their employees, customers and communities.
Significant majorities of CEOs across all industries — including health care, energy and technology — report that their pandemic response has accelerated their digital investments and progress by months, and in some instances they’ve leapfrogged years ahead of where they expected to be.
Despite inherent challenges in managing workforces that in many instances are working fully virtually for the first time, 77 percent told us their communications with employees have actually improved during the crisis.
Seventy-six percent of the CEOs we surveyed said they will continue to build on their use of digital collaboration and communication tools even after the pandemic ends.
Across all industries, areas of accelerated progress include:
The digitization of operations and the creation of a next-generation operating model
The creation of new digital business models and revenue streams
The creation of a seamless digital customer experience
The creation of a new workforce model, with human workers augmented by automation and artificial intelligence.
CEOs cited difficulty making quick technology-related decisions (31 percent) and a lack of insight into future operational scenarios such as new ways of working (22 percent) as the greatest challenges associated with accelerating digital transformation within their organization.
As they respond to COVID-19 and prepare for the post-pandemic reality, 74 percent said they were prioritizing investments in new technology and digitization over developing their workforce’s skills and capabilities (26 percent). Many of these investments, however, are focused on putting the right technology and collaboration tools into the hands of employees to ensure they are equipped to thrive in a remote work environment.
Amid all of the uncertainty, one thing is crystal clear. CEOs are resourceful and working hard to adapt to constantly evolving circumstances. With technology as a key enabler, I’m confident they will continue to rise to meet the challenges and opportunities resulting from the pandemic and ongoing economic uncertainty.
Paul Knopp is chair and chief executive of KPMG in the U.S. He is a Texas resident and graduate of The University of Texas at Austin.