Business leaders feel more equipped post-pandemic, finds Verizon study

Sowmyanarayan Sampath, Chief Executive Officer at Verizon Business

Business leaders are struggling to seize new business opportunities amidst an unpredictable business climate. That is the finding of a survey of 600 global C-suite executives commissioned by Verizon Business. In areas such as transforming customer and employee experience — and on critical issues such as talent acquisition and technology deployment — there is a gap between business growth and the ability to drive meaningful long-term change.

Conducted by Longitude, the survey aims to explore how firms have managed the pandemic as a catalyst for change — and how leaders are reimagining their business for future growth.

What were the findings of the survey?

The good news is that post-pandemic, leaders feel better equipped to make decisions quickly (71%), think strategically about long-term objectives (72%), adopt new tech (75%), and develop more empathetic and trusting kinships with clients (71%) and employees (69%).

COVID exposed weaknesses in strategy

But despite these positive sentiments, faced with continuous upheaval and the growing complexity of the hybrid business environment, many firms are facing strategic uncertainty. Two-thirds of business leaders (66%) said COVID had exposed weaknesses in strategy, while 60% said that they struggle to act decisively in response to new market opportunities.

Over half of executives surveyed highlighted the increasing role played by leadership teams in technology adoption over the past 12 months – with cybersecurity services (78%), data analytics software and tools (75%) and cloud enablement (74%) among the top technology priorities. However, the report identifies a disconnect between intent and execution.

For example, improving customer experience (CX) comes out as the top strategic priority (74%). Only a third (38%), say they have accelerated the use of data analytics to improve CX with even fewer harnessing automation to better serve clients. The report also highlights a concerning lack of digital skills (33%) as the most common gap facing businesses.

How can business leaders navigate troubled waters?

Businesses face a potent cocktail of challenges, from changing consumer behaviors to technology-driven market disruption and the imperative for sustainability, the study goes on to recommend how business leaders can steer their organisations into the future:

  • Navigate a clear path through a deeply uncertain business environment
  • Understand the importance of building resilience and delivering change through partnerships
  • Unite the workforce with a clear purpose
  • Drive innovation through experimentation and fear-free risk-taking
  • Unlock the potential of the whole workforce through inclusive cultures

What were the executive’s thoughts on the findings?

Sampath Sowmyanarayan, CEO for Verizon Business Group said, “The big lesson over the last few years is that there’s not a single right way to lead, build culture or execute strategy.”

“This is why we also see many firms attempting to adopt a ‘bias to yes’ as a guiding principle. They are increasingly giving employees the freedom to openly ask questions such as why a deployment may take so long, or why can’t their business deliver on their customer needs.”