Survey: Business Leaders Ready to Rebound Despite Pandemic Pitfalls

By Art Wittmann, Content Director, Oracle NetSuite
September 10, 2021

As we reach the final stretch of 2021, business leaders continue to balance ongoing challenges related to supply chain instability, hiring, and marketing while also managing a growing list of priorities and opportunities that have arisen throughout the pandemic.

To learn more about how business leaders are setting priorities and managing current realities, Oracle NetSuite and our research team at Brainyard partnered with Wakefield Research to survey 500 finance and non-finance business executives from small (under $10 million), midsize ($10 million - $50 million), and midcap ($50 million - $250 million) companies in North America. Here’s what our survey found.

Planning the Return to the Office
Organizations continue to shift business strategies in response to long-term obstacles brought on by the pandemic.

  • 41% of respondents said COVID-19 will be a major concern for their business in the next 12 months.
  • 89% of respondents said their organizations were allowing all, most or some employees to work remotely.
  • 53% of respondents said their organizations plan to ask for proof of vaccination for workers returning to the office.
  • Only 17% of respondents said their organization plans to decrease or eliminate office real estate. Similarly, 16% of finance leaders are planning to decrease spending on real estate.

Optimism Strengthens with Economic Gains Expected
Despite challenges, leaders are upbeat about the future.

  • A majority (81%) of respondents said their organizations are seeing increasing demand for products and services, and 67% said they will be able to meet this demand.
  • Finance leaders were even more positive about growth, with 88% reporting that they are seeing higher demand and 76% expecting to be able to meet demand.
  • 81% of respondents have a positive economic outlook for their industry in the next 12 months. This aligns with the International Monetary Fund’s outlook which projected U.S. economic growth of 7.0% for 2021 and 4.9% for 2022.
  • 81% of respondents expect their organization to grow their revenue over the next 12 months, with the majority (76%) forecasting up to 20% growth.

Growth Priorities for 2022
With the new calendar year on the horizon, business leaders are prioritizing technology, sales, and marketing investments.

  • Business leaders said their top strategies to improve revenue in the next year include modifying supply chain strategies (42%), adding new and/or enhanced products and services (41%), and modifying pricing strategies (41%).
  • IT and technology-led spending is expected to increase in the next year. 47% of respondents expect to increase spending by 10% or more.
  • Finance teams identified improvements to financial planning and analysis (46%), supporting strategic decision-making (42%), and improving cash flow visibility (38%) as their top three priorities.
  • Plans to increase revenue differed between organizations of different sizes. Respondents from smaller organizations identified selling more to existing customers (44%) as their top priority, respondents from midsize organizations identified creating or enhancing ecommerce capabilities (43%) as their top priority, while respondents from larger organizations identified expanded marketing efforts as their No. 1 path to growth (45%).

Business leaders continue to navigate evolving challenges to drive business growth. Our latest quarterly index is a sign that despite new and ongoing challenges, optimism and hope remain high.

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