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The third edition of The Economist Intelligence Unit’s Global Business Barometer (GBB), fielded in June, tracked sentiment as global executives started thinking about recovery. Participants say better digital agility is key to post-COVID resilience.

The latest results of the Global Business Barometer (GBB), based on a survey fielded in late June, showed sentiment improving once again but remaining firmly in the negative for all but one economy. 

The three-month (April-May-June) outlook for the global economy among all survey respondents scored -16.8 (the barometer ranges from -50 to +50), moving the needle into the “somewhat worse” category after being in the “much worse” category in the first two GBBs.

In the previous Global Business Barometer reports, researchers used the three broad stages of crisis response—survive, adapt and recover—to frame the survey results from May. Most respondents saw the economy, their industries and their companies as still in the survival phase, though many had already started to adapt in recognition that the pandemic wasn’t going to be over anytime soon.

Another month on and we’re still far from the recovery phase (green shoots in China and a few other places aside). Yet whatever shape the recovery may take, many companies now realise just how unprepared they were for a situation like this. Given that few experts believe this will be the last pandemic, let alone the last global crisis of one kind or another, building resilience into operations has become a strategic imperative for the private and public sectors alike” –the whitepaper adds. 

What are the greatest opportunities for post-COVID resilience?

Researchers asked participants what the biggest opportunities for post-COVID resilience were, in their opinion. The top answer was “greater digital agility” (cited by 50.1% of respondents). That was followed by “better customer experience” at 45.0% and “more innovative offerings” at 42.0%.

According to the researcher’s explanation, emphasis on digital agility above all else is understandable: without digital tools, many companies would have ceased to function during the lockdowns.

Researchers found it worrying that strategic planning and business continuity was somewhat lower down the list. A global pandemic was not an unknown risk prior to COVID-19, yet few seemed prepared. This often resulted in a scramble for ad hoc solutions—digital being chief among them—rather than a methodical, step-by-step response” – the study states.

If the lesson executives and political leaders take away from this pandemic is that digital is there to save us from insufficient planning then the economic impact of the next crisis might very well be shaped like an “I” – the paper concludes.

 Photo: Pixabay

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