Spring | 2020
Dear readers,

We hope that you and yours are doing well during these difficult times.

The COVID-19 pandemic is changing how we work and live. We at ESI ThoughtLab, like all of you, are learning to adapt. During such periods of disruption, companies and cities need timely thought leadership more than ever—so that they can assess the pandemic’s implications and recalibrate their plans for the future.

ESI ThoughtLab has been on the front line conducting timely research and analysis as events play out. We are conducting executive pulse surveys across industries to analyze the pandemic’s impact from different perspectives: how organizations are accelerating digital transformation and the use of AI and other game-changing technologies, responding to evolving customer expectations and behaviors, preparing for the future of work, rethinking supply chains and manufacturing strategies, adjusting smart city plans, and preserving data security and privacy in a digital-first world. 

Our editorial team has also been busy interviewing a cross-section of executives, from CISOs and CIOs to CEOs, CMOs, and CCOs (chief customer officers) to understand how COVID-19 has affected their business functions and longer-term strategies. Working from our home offices, we have convened advisory boards, and conducted webinars and online conferences with corporate, government, and academic leaders to discuss today’s top-of-mind issues. 

Meanwhile, we are close to concluding our latest multi-client study,  Driving Cybersecurity Performance , which looks at how companies can improve their cybersecurity practices and effectiveness in today’s riskier world. We already have published an article containing vital insights from our sponsors and advisors, including how to cope with the impact of COVID-19 on cybersecurity systems. We are nearly finished with a survey of 1,200 AI experts in companies around the world for another study,  Driving ROI through AI .  This in-depth research program examines corporate investments, practices, plans, and performance results across industries, relating to the use of AI and RPA. 
One of our most important research initiatives this year is  Smart City Solutions for a Riskier World . Reeling from COVID-19’s health, employment, and economic repercussions, mayors will need to rebuild their cities, using digital technology innovation and public-private partnerships to create a safer and more resilient and sustainable future for citizens. Our study will analyze how cities can use smart innovation (and government stimulus funding) to rise above today’s growing urban challenges, such as pollution and crime, diversity and inclusion, unemployment and economic hardship, and infrastructure and mobility. 

While these are troubling times for all of us, we can make the world a better place through ingenuity and innovation. We at ESI ThoughtLab hope to play our part by providing evidence-based analysis and best-practice insights to help corporate and government leaders find the best way forward. 

In the meantime, we wish you all well.
Lou Celi,
Chief Executive Officer
ESI ThoughtLab
COVID-19 and the Cybersecurity Challenges Organizations Face
As the COVID-19 pandemic persists and more companies are placing greater reliance on digital systems, corporate cybersecurity systems are being put under pressure like never before. Companies have shifted to remote operations, disruption and increased attacks from opportunistic threat actors are mounting, and supply chains have been impacted on a global scale. This is creating vulnerabilities and testing the effectiveness and resilience of cybersecurity programs.

To get a better sense of the current state of cybersecurity business practices, ESI ThoughtLab sat down with members of the Driving Cybersecurity Performance advisory board to get firsthand views of how the pandemic is changing the use of digital systems and some of the implications for cybersecurity vulnerabilities.
Take our brief survey on cybersecurity
In your opinion, what is the most important part of the NIST cybersecurity framework?
Cutting-edge insights through economics
ESI ThoughtLab teams with ServiceNow for Innovation Issue of Workforce Quarterly
ESI ThoughtLab's in-depth research explores how eff ective large enterprises are at using technology to drive innovation. A survey included responses from CIOs, CEOs, COOs, and other executives at more than 350 organizations in 12 countries and across 5 major industries.
Cognizant Reports: Energy & Utilities
With the increasing availability of distributed energy resources (DER), energy and utility businesses now face competition from new market entrants equipped with the latest digital technologies, processes and organizational models that cater to the needs of the energy consumer. In this environment, crucial questions arise about how to keep moving forward: what’s working, what’s not, where investments are paying off, optimal next steps, and what separates leaders from followers.

To find the answers, ESI ThoughtLab worked alongside Cognizant to survey 2,491 business and technology leaders from multiple industries globally (including 191 energy and utility organizations) that collectively account for about $21.6 trillion in annual revenue. This research reveals how much businesses should be investing in advanced technologies as a percent of revenue today and in the near future, the investments that are yielding the greatest returns, the next best areas to focus on, and the returns they can expect at various points of the maturity curve.
ESI ThoughtLab's research provides an evidence-based roadmap that cities can use to become vibrant, hyperconnected urban centers of the future.

Access the Hyperconnected City Data Navigator
Explore rankings, profiles, strategies, and see how 100 cities across the world are using data analytics and technology to transform and interconnect key areas across their urban ecosystems.
Recent think pieces from ESI's Present Value
Trendsetters in evidence-based thought leadership
ESI ThoughtLab is the thought leadership arm of Econsult Solutions, Inc. (ESI) , a leading economic consultancy headquartered in Philadelphia, PA. ESI ThoughtLab specializes in analyzing the impact of technological, economic, and demographic shifts on industries, cities, and companies. Our in-house team of over 40 thought leadership, economic, and subject matter specialists, along with our global network of experts, excels at creating valuable decision support that sits at the intersection of visionary thinking, analytical excellence, and innovative content formats.
Fresh thinking to stay ahead of the curve