European companies are beginning to take action, as a longer and more unstable recovery is expected.

Business leaders everywhere are under enormous pressure due to the pandemic just to guide their companies through the next, day, week, month and year. There is continued uncertainty about the shape of the recovery and to what degree government stimulus will shore up the business environment.

Optimism for a fast recovery from the impact of coronavirus has waned among business leaders over the last few months.

According to 700 C-level executives interviewed in July, only 17% now expect the recovery in Europe to be V-shaped, down from 30% in May. This belief is echoed across North America and Asia, with a growing number now believing the economic damage will last for a much longer period before reaching the baseline level of growth again.

Optimism for a fast recovery in Europe has waned in recent months

17%

of business leaders globally expect the recovery in Europe to be rapid (V-shaped). Down from 30% in May.

75%

of business leaders globally expect a longer (U-shaped) and more unstable (W-shaped) recovery. Up from 65% in May.

41%

expect a U-shaped recovery.

34%

expect a W-shaped recovery.

Expectations for a fast recovery in North America has dropped from 33% in May, to 22% in July.

Expectations for a fast recovery in China has dropped from 48% in May, to 17% in July.

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71%

of business leaders globally expect a longer and more unstable recovery in North America, up from 58% in May.

72%

of business leaders globally expect a longer and more unstable recovery in China, up from 51% in May.

However, the good news is that European companies are beginning to make the bold investments needed to accelerate a rebound.

They are:

Significantly increasing investments:

66% of European companies are already investing in initiatives to prepare for the rebound, up dramatically from just 16% in May. This figure is on par with Asian companies (65%) and greater than that of North American companies (59%).

Doubling investments in innovation:

60% of European companies plan to accelerate their investments in innovation—up from 35% in May—catching up with companies in North America (60%) and Asia (58%).

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European companies in a post-COVID-19 world

Accelerating digital transformation

75%

of European companies will accelerate their digital transformation, including their use of cloud—up from 63% in May—closing in on their peers in North America (81%) and Asia (81%).

66%

of European companies plan to increase their investment in cloud.

The top priority for European executives is now “acceleration of new technology adoption,” while in May it was “ensuring business continuity.”

Finding new growth models by leveraging disruptive technologies

88%

are developing new business models and revenue streams by leveraging disruptive technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI)—a higher figure than for those in North America (69%) and Asia (67%).

69%

are increasing their investments in AI 69% as a result of the pandemic.

55%

are increasing their investments in blockchain as a result of the pandemic.

Creating a new working environment and corporate culture

71%

of European companies plan to accelerate the creation of a smarter workforce (e.g. more flexible and productive, better access to training, etc.), up from 50% in May.

70%

of European companies plan to fundamentally redesign how people work (redesigning office spaces, promoting remote working, etc.), as well as their corporate culture and mindset, up from 53% in May.

76%

of European executives think they should be responsible for ensuring the well-being of their employees (beyond financial means).

Reinventing customer experiences

73%

plan to change the way they engage and interact with their customers, up from 49% in May. This includes adapting to buying habits that are increasingly driven by social and environmental criteria.

50%

of European consumers will continue making more environmentally-friendly, sustainable and ethical purchases post-COVID, according to a consumer survey Accenture conducted in July.

About the research

The research is based on a survey of 700 C-suite executives in 10 countries across 15 industries. The survey was conducted online and by telephone between 19 June and 17 July 2020. Each interview took 20 minutes. Industries represented include: airlines/travel/transport; automotive; banking; communications/media/entertainment; chemicals; consumer goods; energy; high tech; industrial goods & equipment; insurance; pharmaceutical/biotech/life sciences; public services; retail; software/platforms; and utilities. Countries represented: Australia, Canada, China, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Spain, the United Kingdom and the United States.



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