The range of uncertainties facing business leaders around the globe in 2021 is overwhelming. Challenges triggered by a rare airborne virus creating a global pandemic continues to unfold, combined with numerous other risk issues, such as growing social unrest, polarization and ever-present challenges ranging from new technologies and digitization innovations to everchanging markets, strategies, and business models. Staying abreast of emerging risks and opportunities is becoming increasingly difficult.
Leaders of organizations in virtually every industry, size of organization and geographic location are reminded frequently that they operate in what appears to be an increasingly risky global landscape.
Protiviti and North Carolina State University’s ERM Initiative latest report contains results from our ninth annual risk survey of directors and executives worldwide to obtain their views on the extent to which a broad collection of risks is likely to affect their organizations in 2021. Also, for the first time, this year we asked respondents to consider how these risks will affect their organizations a decade from now (in 2030).
We received some interesting insights and responses from India for our survey, which rates the risks from “No Impact at All” (1) to “Extensive Impact” (10) on a scale of 1 to 10. For each of the 36 risks, we computed the average score reported by all respondents and rank-ordered the risks from highest to lowest impact.
Top Risks for 2021
Market conditions imposed by and in response to COVID-19, including shifts in consumer behavior to digital channels, may continue to impact customer demand for our core products and services
Government policies surrounding public health practices, social distancing, return-to-work, crowd limits, and other pandemic-related regulations and protocols may significantly impact the performance of our business
The adoption of digital technologies (e.g., artificial intelligence, robotics, natural language processing, visual recognition software) in the marketplace and in our organization may require new skills that either are in short supply in the market for talent or require significant efforts to upskill and reskill existing employees
Sustaining customer loyalty and retention may become increasingly difficult due to evolving customer preferences and/or demographic shifts in our existing customer base
Resistance to change in our culture may restrict our organization from making necessary adjustments to the business model and core operations
Ongoing demands on or expectations for a significant portion of our workforce to “work remotely” or increased expectations for a transformed, enhanced collaborative physical work environment may negatively impact the effectiveness and efficiency of how we operate our business
Inability to utilize data analytics and “big data” to achieve market intelligence and increase productivity and efficiency may significantly affect our management of core operations and strategic plans
Economic conditions in markets we currently serve, particularly related to unemployment and government stimulus, may significantly restrict growth opportunities for our organization
Rapid speed of disruptive innovations enabled by new and emerging technologies (e.g., artificial intelligence, robotics, machine learning, hyper-scalable platforms, increasing bandwidth, faster data transmission) and/or other market forces may outpace our organization’s ability to compete and/or manage the risk appropriately, without making significant changes to our business model
Our organization may not be able to adapt its business model to embrace the evolving “new normal” imposed on our business by the current pandemic and emerging social change