Gartner Research

COVID-19 Bulletin: Executive Pulse, 3 April 2020

Published: 02 April 2020


Here’s a roll-up of pandemic-related executive sentiment and insights from thousands of functional leaders across the C-suite.

Fast word on tactics and concerns from thousands participating in our conference calls and polls.

>>>More detailed role-specific reports may be available on the website, depending on your subscription.

Across the C-Suite This Week

This global shift toward remote work will lead to permanent change, finance leaders say.

Figure 1: 74% of Companies Plan Shift to More Remote Work Post COVID

Indeed, five senior in-house legal leaders tell us they prefer working from home. They said they encounter fewer disruptions, allowing them to focus on substantive legal work and enjoy the new flexibility afforded by the remote environment

But working parents with young children are under pressure:

  • Nearly 80% of working adults with children aged 6 or younger report having a range of 0-5 hours of focused work time per day.

  • Over 45% of those parents report having less than 3 hours of focused work time.

Marketing, Sales and Real Estate: Cost Cutting Targets

Finance leaders have certain functions in their sights for cuts of at least 10%:

Figure 2: SG&A Functional Cuts

Marketing leaders recognize they’re first in line, with 65% of CMOs expecting a budget cut this year as a direct result of COVID-19...

  • Almost a third (32%) of CMOs overall are braced for a budget decrease of 15% or more.

  • 68% are cancelling or postponing events.

  • 63% are launching COVID-specific communications to customers.

  • 45% delaying a campaign launch.

Sales leaders are unable to rely on forecasting because of a high degree of variance…

  • They are cautioning sales managers not to become consumed by forecasting at the expense of supporting sales.

  • Progressive sales leaders are considering triggers and responses to mobilize a change in seller quota or compensation plans.

Across marketing, communications and sales, leaders are defending core operations by...

  • Seeking to retain their in-house teams so they will be well positioned for the recovery

  • Maintaining investments in digital marketing channels to stay connected to customers and prospects

  • Using rapid testing to see how marketing and communications resonate with customers and prospects

  • Cutting back on the use of external marketing agencies

Sensing an opportunity, CFOs are looking to cut back on real estate costs by:

  • Exploring concessions on their rent payments in the short term

  • Evaluating their entire real estate footprint to determine what long term changes they may want to make in the future

Unsurprisingly, many landlords are not entirely receptive. Companies must also weigh the benefits of short-term concessions against loss of leverage in lease renewal negotiations.

Third Parties: A Source of Savings

Finance chiefs are looking to cut back on suppliers, consultants and contractors

  • Identifying areas where work can be brought back in-house, after careful consideration of staff capabilities

  • Challenging business leaders to justify existing and planned consulting spend

  • Clawing back the standard T&E portion of contracts to save on contract costs

Third Parties: A Source of Risk

Even before the crisis, it was tough to manage third-party risks because of the complexity of multi-tier supplier networks. Now legal and compliance leaders are reaching across functions to identify the most critical suppliers. They are meeting with procurement and supply chain leaders to...

  • Monitor the financial health of priority suppliers

  • Ask critical suppliers to provide details of their business continuity plans and the likelihood of meeting contractual obligations

  • Reviewing contracts to identify those with force majeure clauses in order to anticipate future financial or business disruption

Many supplier organizations have portions of their workforce working remotely, raising privacy and security risks. So legal and compliance executives tell us they are working with procurement leaders to increase oversight:

  • Asking about work from home, bring-your-own-device and cybersecurity policies of their vendors

  • Requesting details of privacy and security training that has been completed recently

But some legal leaders tell us they are relaxing contract provisions that prohibit specific remote or offshore work, so suppliers can continue critical work.

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The impacts of COVID-19 need a cross-functional response. Access all of our research to help your partners in assurance, supply chain, HR, IT and others act quickly and confidently. You’ll find tips, toolkits and other planning advice.


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