The COVID-19 pandemic has not only upended society and inflicted tragic losses; it has also been a defining moment for business. The crisis has accelerated the use of modern technology, radically altered customer behavior, short-circuited business operations, and revised how employees get things done. To get a sense of how senior executives are responding to the crisis, Cognizant commissioned ESI ThoughtLab to conduct a survey of 500 senior executives at U.S.-based companies. The companies ranged in size from $500 million in revenue to over $50 billion, and came from six industries: education, financial services, healthcare, life sciences, manufacturing and retail.
For most businesses, the pandemic has been a stress test, exposing failings in the way they operate. Management teams had to rush to close facilities and offices, rethink supply chains, defuse rising cyber threats, and preserve their bottom lines as the world economy tanked. Business continuity planning, scenario analysis, and corporate cultures strained to meet this unprecedented challenge.
Many of the practices that have become commonplace during this time—from online commerce and banking, to remote working and healthcare, to digital learning and entertainment—will continue to be our new normal long after the crisis subsides. One big shift will be a rapid acceleration of digital initiatives to keep pace with the fast-changing expectations and behaviors of customers and employees. But perhaps most important, the health and well-being of people and the world has become a shared business mission, as companies expand their thinking from shareholder to stakeholder value.