Research: Risk factors for business success in a post-pandemic world

Recognized Research Reveals Key Challenges: Competitive Position, Benefits of Technology Investments, Talent and Expertise Gaps and ESG Actions

  • About 90 percent of respondents cite competing strategic demands, including data-driven ways of working, digital business models and adapting operations to these new ways of working.
  • More than 60 percent of respondents have plans or have already started to introduce advanced technology, such as quantum computers, blockchain and robotics. Yet nearly 50 percent claim they are not getting significant value from existing technology investments.
  • Nearly half of respondents (46%) say they lack the internal talent needed to implement and deploy advanced technologies.
  • An overwhelming nine out of ten respondents recognize that consideration of environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues is an essential part of modern business; only 35 percent currently integrate ESG into the company’s strategy.

Cognizant today presents the results of The Future-Ready Business Benchmark, an Economist Impact study commissioned by Cognizant. This comprehensive survey of leaders in eight sectors and ten countries aims to gain insight into the state of the modern organisation. It also highlights how leaders are preparing for long-term success in a post-pandemic world. The research identifies three essential points that leaders must prioritize to create a future-proof organization: 1) reaping the full benefits of accelerated technology adoption, 2) rethinking workforce strategies, and 3) closing the gap between thinking and doing in light of the growing environmental, social and governance (ESG) challenges.

“Resilience is the new must-have capability for any organization that wants to succeed in this age of increased competition, accelerating digital technology and unpredictable global events,” said Euan Davis, Head of Cognizant Research. “To succeed as a modern business, managers must be prepared for anything, and prioritization is key when everything seems equally important. We have shown that smart investments in technology, a focus on developing talent with new skills and implementing and acting on an ESG agenda are core elements of focus that managers can build on. Successful leaders build future-proof, resilient businesses by ensuring their organizations learn, adapt and continuously evolve.”

Cognizant commissioned Economist Impact to survey 2,000 executives in ten countries in North America, Europe and Asia-Pacific to assess and compare their companies against a variety of metrics.

Key findings from the study include:

  • More than 90 percent of the respondents state that it is a strategic priority to data-driven approach and create a digital-first business model. 37 percent of respondents said both requirements, along with the importance of adapting operations to these new ways of working, are “business critical.”
  • Technology investments are moving faster than the standard shopping list of cloud, advanced analytics, IoT and artificial intelligence/machine learning (AI/ML). Even as respondents say they are yet to realize the full value of existing investments. In addition to these basic technologies, which the vast majority of respondents (80%) say they have or plan to adopt, there is a increasing demand for new technologies. More than 60 percent of respondents say they plan to introduce or are already doing so in quantum computing, blockchain and robotics.
  • Human Resources and Talent Management Strategies must be thoroughly revised to prepare employees for new ways of working. Nearly half of respondents (46%) acknowledge that they lack the talent needed to take advantage of advanced technologies. When asked about the biggest barriers to adopting new processes, products, services and technologies in the past 12 months, the top two challenges were workforce-related: a lack of well-trained staff and a chronic lack of focus on preparing employees for the new. ways of working. For example, only a third (33%) of respondents use data to identify training needs and attract talent.
  • The resilience of companies that label ESG as important but fail to act to implement ESG across the organization is at risk. Nine out of ten policy makers recognize that attention to ESG issues is an important aspect of modern business. However, there is a large gap between recognition and action, with only 31 percent dedicating staff and resources to ESG and only 35 percent integrating ESG into business strategy. A slight majority (54%) say they set specific environmental goals and act on them, while only 44 percent currently measure social impact.

“Many businesses are already struggling to prepare for next month, let alone the coming years,” said Vaibhav Sahgal, principal at Economist Impact. “Companies that actually implement the future-proofing principles of our Future-Ready Business Benchmark in day-to-day production will maintain and expand their competitive advantage. Our data confirms that making progress in this area is particularly difficult when organizations struggle with various priorities. Our guideline is to start where the gaps are greatest and sharpen the focus on people; the benchmark offers concrete tools for companies in all countries and sectors. If companies do not embrace the ongoing instability and prioritize business plans and investments, they risk being no longer relevant. “

Research methodology
The Future-Ready Business Benchmark, a study by Economist Impact commissioned by Cognizant, examines the current state of businesses in light of tomorrow’s needs. The benchmark was developed through a rigorous process of research, expert consultation, data collection and analysis. The benchmark reflects a number of key considerations and goals for future-proofing multinationals from 10 countries – including the Netherlands, Germany, the UK and Sweden – and 8 sectors, based on the external environment, business readiness factors and current performance. It focuses on cross-sectoral themes such as business fundamentals, talent, technology and innovative capacity and ESG. Read more about how to become a future-proof organization here.

About Cognizant
Cognizant (Nasdaq: CTSH) builds and develops modern businesses. We help our customers modernize technology, redesign processes and transform experiences so they can be at the forefront of our rapidly changing world. Together we improve everyday life. Check out or @knowing.

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