Gartner Research

COVID-19 Bulletin: Executive Pulse, Week of 11 May 2020

Published: 07 May 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.

Supply chain disruption has declined over the past month as a top impact in the next 30 days, according to our polls of more than 600 business leaders. A slowdown in sales growth continues to lead concerns for 31% of respondents in late April, up from 25% in late March and early April. Worries about employee productivity are subsiding while changing customer needs are emerging as a high-priority challenge for 19%, up from 13%.

Figure 1. Where COVID-19 Will Have the Most Impact

With revenue stalled or shrinking, chief finance officers are hunting for more ways to cut costs in the coming months:

  • T&E, leadership offsites and capex delays are at the top of their list

  • More companies expect to impose hiring freezes

  • Consultants and contractors have also climbed higher up on the target list

Figure 2. Most Likely Cost Reduction Actions

Even so, nearly 9 in 10 (86%) organizations have developed a priority list of spending they would reintroduce if and when the hoped-for swing toward recovery occurs.

CFOs would most like to:

  • Rev up the hiring engine again (49%)

  • Thaw frozen travel and entertainment spending (46%)

  • Resume capital expenditures (41%)

  • Reinstate previously reduced salary increases (31%)

Figure 3. Costs to Reintroduce If and When Revenues Return

Finance technology investment levels will likely stay flat for the most part, particularly for robotic process automation (RPA), cloud technologies, data analytics and artificial intelligence:

Figure 4. Adjustments in Finance Technology Investments Due to COVID-19

In the United States and the United Kingdom, bankers are struggling to process government-backed small business loans quickly enough to meet demand. Still, financial services leaders tell us they are deploying teams to conduct scenario planning exercises that help business owners calculate potential impacts on revenues and cash flow.

Nearly six in 10 (56%) financial services leaders cite technology infrastructure as their greatest weakness:

  • Executives tell us their institutions still rely on manual processes, including paper transactions and traditional mail, requiring employees to go to the office in some cases, because the regulatory framework prevents a move to digital.

  • They say outdated processes and technology don’t efficiently connect, share and automate across the enterprise.

Figure 5. Strengths and Weaknesses During COVID-19 Crisis

But more than half (52%) of chief information officers in the same industry see technology infrastructure as the company’s greatest strength during the crisis.

  • The pandemic has boosted the case for faster digital adoption and a move to the cloud.

  • Retail bankers tell us that traditional branch customers are moving faster in the coronavirus era to digital banking. Executives are thinking about how to encourage permanent adoption because reopening is leading to more (albeit shorter) physical visits.

Compiled by Daniel Ryntjes

Contactwith any questions or comments.

Recommended by the Authors

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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