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CEOs are facing a tall order when navigating their companies through the pandemic and beyond. “The long-term sustainability of businesses depends on the CEOs’ vision, their ability to make strategic decisions, and their comfort with high levels of ambiguity,” says Carl Carande, Vice Chair for Advisory at KPMG U.S. “At the same time, they have to make sure that they can pivot based on changing facts and circumstances.”

Creating a strong strategy starts with a data-driven assessment of how the pandemic impacted a company and how to pivot to achieve the objectives of the target state, or the operating and business model best fit for achieving goals under future scenarios. Figuring out that target state can be a challenge, as 22% (the second biggest group) of CEOs point to the lack of insight into future operational scenarios as an obstacle to accelerating their digital transformations.

Carande believes that a methodical and data-driven strategic assessment can give CEOs 85% confidence in what their industry is going to look like post-pandemic, even with unknowns around the availability of a COVID-19 vaccine, when employees will feel comfortable about coming back to work and what the outcome of the presidential election will be.

Of course, the target states and strategies are going to be very different for different industries. For Vertiv, for example, which is a critical digital infrastructure provider serving the IT industry, the pandemic encouraged them to reevaluate how they approach technology and their supply chain.

“The pandemic has affected us in ways we never expected,” says CEO Rob Johnson. “It’s forced us to utilize digital tools more effectively and change our culture to where not everything needs to be done in person. The digital tools we’re all using today would have taken us years to adopt, but we were forced to accept them overnight, and are pleased at how well they’re working. In terms of supply chain,” he continues, “the pandemic has caused us to rethink some things. We’ve always had a basic strategy of manufacturing in region for region, and never has that strategy been more on the money. We continue to reinforce our commitment to that approach as a result of the pandemic.”

Iron Mountain, an information management service company, operates in a hybrid world of physical and digital document storage and retrieval. “The crisis gave us an opportunity to step back and say, how valuable is it to our customers today to receive a box of physical documents within 24 hours versus receive them in electronic forms?” says Iron Mountain’s President and CEO, William Meaney. “Digitizing retrieval allowed us to increase efficiency and provide a more valuable, modern service.”

Rob Johnson, CEO, Vertiv

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