How do corporate leaders see 2021 shaping up, especially in light of availability of COVID-19 vaccines? Dana Peterson, chief economist for think-tank The Conference Board, says, “While CEOs continue to fret about a possible downturn, 2021 is poised to be the light at the end of the pandemic tunnel. In most regions — especially the United States — CEOs believe the distribution of a successful vaccine will have a significant impact on their businesses this year. The spread of COVID-19 vaccines will, among other benefits, provide greater clarity and predictability around short-term planning and operations.”
The organization’s C-Suite Challenge 2021 survey revealed the biggest business challenges in 2021 according to global CEOs and C-suite executives. The more than 1,500 respondents cite COVID-19, recruiting and retaining top talent, recession risk, vaccine availability, and accelerating digital transformation as issues that are expected to keep them up at night in the coming year.
Of interest to packaging departments tasked with shipping efficiencies and supply chain optimization, US CEOs say vaccine distribution will have an outsized impact on their businesses. They rank vaccine availability second in a list of external challenges, behind the pandemic itself. Comparatively, vaccine availability ranks third among global CEOs, and ninth with Chinese executives.
A key learning during the pandemic centers around the continued need for optimizing global supply chains. “Looking beyond reduced business travel, altered landscape of commercial office space, and increased automation of tasks, CEOs believe the need to address the resilience of global supply chains will be one of the most likely long-term legacies of COVID-19,” says Ataman Ozyildirim, global research chair at The Conference Board.
Ozyildirim continues, “During the pandemic, many policymakers and companies learned that a heavily optimized supply chain often lacked the agility to substitute alternate sources of supply. While concerns about global trade disruptions diminished recently, the global pandemic has exposed new vulnerabilities in supply chains.”