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Study: Entrepreneurs expect to feel the effects of the pandemic in the coming years

November 30, 2021

Private companies around the world expect the wide-ranging impacts from the pandemic will continue to be felt for the next several years, according to the latest Deloitte Private Survey, conducted among 2,750 privately held companies in 33 countries around the world. Their top concerns for the next two years are COVID-19-related risks, such as the pandemic’s impact on demand for products and services (28%), operational impact on supply chain, HR, IT and delivery (25%). Other risks they identify are related to potential cyber-attacks and IT Security (26%), increased market competition (26%) and cost of raw materials and other input costs, including energy (23%).   Although the majority of the participants to the Deloitte survey believe their companies’ key business metrics, such as productivity, revenue, profit and capital investment, will improve, they are cautious about hiring plans, with only 11% predicting an increase in headcount over the next year, while 8% projected a decline.   Almost three quarters (71%) of the respondents rate transforming their work, workforce, and workplace as being important or highly important to building resilience within their organization and no less than 20% have fully transformed the nature of work at their organizations. Most of the surveyed private companies say they focus on employing flexible workforce arrangements and redesigning their organizations to be more agile and accomplish more with smaller, independent teams.   “Private companies have increased efforts towards organizational transformation by accelerating their digital transformation and by embedding into their strategy sustainability principles in the wide sense of the concept – environment, social impact and responsibility. The survey respondents list government funding as a significant way to offset the economic impact of the pandemic and as the most important form of government assistance they will need for the short term in order to facilitate growth,” said Andrei Burz-Pinzaru, Partner Reff & Associates | Deloitte Legal, and leader of the Deloitte Private programme, dedicated to serving private companies of all sizes including local entrepreneurs, SMEs, start-ups and family businesses.   Digital transformation has become a priority in the context of the pandemic, with 70% of companies significantly accelerating their digital transformation, as well as a growth strategy for the next two years for over 40% of them. While over a quarter had started their transformation prior to COVID-19, more than half have initiated it in response to the crisis.   The main technology areas in which privately-owned companies plan to investment are information security and cyber intelligence (39%), data analytics (37%), customer relationship management systems (34%), AI (33%), automation of business processes (32%), Internet of Things (30%). The surveyed executives have broad expectations about the gains that technology investments will deliver for their organizations, such as improvements in customer engagement, sales volumes boost, increased ability to manage and minimize costs.   Also, almost 70% of the respondents said purpose increased in importance for their organization as a direct result of the COVID-19 crisis. As far as sustainability and carbon reductions are concerned, two thirds of the surveyed private companies say they remain focused on these topics despite the disruptions caused by COVID-19. But there is still significant room for improvement, as a third of the respondents characterize environmental, social, and governance (ESG) issues as a low risk for the coming year and 14% see no related risk at all.    

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