IBM (International Business Machines) carried out a survey of 3,000 chief executives on corporate priorities after the coronavirus pandemic.

The 2021 CEO Study revealed that the corporates will primarily focus on getting rid of distractions, discarding outmoded traditions, and exploiting unique advantages this year.

This comes as two-thirds of respondents identified a prolonged global recession as a top concern for business.

“The Covid-19 pandemic challenged many leaders to focus on what’s essential, like their people,” says Mark Foster, senior vice president at IBM Services.

IBM study stated that agility is a top priority for leaders “to an unprecedented degree.” More than half (56 per cent) of CEOs emphasize the need to “aggressively pursue” operational agility and flexibility over the next two to three years.

Also read: Pandemic accelerated global firms to adopt AI tech

Technology is expected to have the biggest business impact over the next few years. CEOs are looking most to the Internet of Things and artificial intelligence to deliver results.

Half of the CEOs in the study cited regulation as a priority. “This unquestionably reflects a rising assertiveness by governments around privacy, data, trade and – amplified by Covid-19 – health,” the IBM study noted.

IBM further elaborated on the three core areas of focus among CEOs. These include:


Forty-eight per cent of respondents cited customers, clients, and citizens as their most important business priorities. This includes creating positive customer experiences and focusing on ethics and integrity.


Thirty per cent of the 3,000 CEOs, products, and services are the priority, with a focus on innovation.


The other 20 per cent of CEOs in the study prioritize operations, with a focus on efficiency, distribution, pricing structure, and transparency.

“In the context of Covid-19, this is the group hit hardest during 2020. Among even the outperformers in this cohort, 60 per cent report expected revenue declines for the year, a figure twice the size of outperformers in the customer- and product-focused groups,” IBM stated. The findings of the study were published in the World Economic Forum platform.