Dealing with the COVID crisis and other societal challenges has posed challenges for brands and businesses for which no clear resolutions have emerged, but new research from technology and business solution provider NTT points the C-suite to technology for help.
The recently released study, Building Back with Purpose for a Safe, Equitable and Connected Future, focuses on the dire necessity for complex digital technologies that have made it possible for businesses and societies to keep functioning amid the pandemic.
The firm’s global survey of large-corp. CEOs, conducted by WSJ Intelligence, asked business leaders about their corporation’s role in society, their social-impact strategies, the stakeholders involved, and how those strategies were affected by the pandemic. This survey also examined CEOs’ confidence in a range of new and emerging technologies, and how those innovations might help the world to tackle enormous social challenges, such as the global supply chain, the future of work and health and well-being.
To help respondents define the role of the corporation in global society today, the research differentiates between “investor-centric” respondents, defined as “those whose view of the corporation is strictly to create value for shareholders by earning profit,” and “stakeholder-centric” respondents, who defined their mission as either, “to create value for all stakeholders by earning profits in a sustainable way, which includes minimizing the harm that the business causes to society,” or “contribute to solutions for the challenges confronting people and society as a means of earning profits and generating long-term stakeholder value.”
Key findings of the research:
- 56 percent of respondents believe corporations generate value by earning profits in a sustainable waythat includes minimizing harm to society;
- 80 percent of stakeholder-centric executives say they pursue parallel financial and community outcomes, and see social-impact strategies as essential to financial returns;
- Technology powers the tools and opportunities to tackle social issues, but can also disrupt social stability through the rapid spread of false or misleading information;
- Cybersecurity is the only technology that a majority of executives consider fully adequate for their social-impact strategy; however, adoption of cybersecurity technologies is not fast enough or sufficiently complete yet
- High-performance communications networks, followed by cloud computing and advanced analytics, are identified by CEOs as promising technologies with which to address social issues.
As the world continues to combat COVID-19 and plan for recovery, digital technology and social-impact programs will help to create the “new normal.” The recovery from Covid-19 presents every organization with the opportunity to think in new ways and accelerate digital transformation.
This research was conducted in July/August 2020 among CEOs across 15 countries, who participated in an online survey that aimed to understand how they viewed their company’s responsibility to contribute, visibly and substantively, to achieving societal goals. Globally, 352 CEOs at companies with more than US$500M in revenue (with 75 of U.S. respondents at companies with more than $1BN) participated in quantitative research across 10 industries.