Summer | 2020
Dear readers,

We hope that you are continuing to stay safe and adapting to the new normal we all face.

ESI ThoughtLab has been extremely busy these past few months exploring how the pandemic will permanently change how we work, learn, and live. We have assessed the impact of the COVID-19 crisis across industries and business activities, from remote working, employee productivity, and business continuity to digital customer experiences, supply chain management, and digital transformation.

Our research shows that this is a defining moment for business on par with the rise of the internet in the 1990's. Like other seminal turning points in history, it is galvanizing technological, market, and social forces already in motion. We see three lasting effects:

  • Everything goes digital. The pandemic has fast-tracked the use of advanced technologies to cope with the rigors of social distancing. Firms used technologies like AI to automate workflow processes, personalize customer experience, predict market trends in real time and even find better coronavirus treatments. Our research shows that companies will accelerate digital transformation by several years, as companies boost their investments not just in AI, but also in 5G and IoT to edge computing, open platforms, and next-generation cloud.
  • The future of work is now. The rise of remote working, digital workflow processes, external ecosystems of partners, and the freelance economy predates the pandemic. But COVID-19 has shown that this way of working can be more productive, flexible, and cost effective, particularly in today's pandemic era of social distancing. Our analysis reveals that the future of work is now, and every industry will rethink how work gets done in offices, at home, or on the factory floor.
  • Social equity and development. Social injustice, the one-percenters, and the UN Sustainable Development Goals were already on the minds of government and business leaders before the pandemic hit. Many were questioning if capitalism was broken. Now, the crisis has made the issue too big to avoid. In the words of Jamie Dimon, CEO of J.P. Morgan Chase: “This crisis must serve as a wake-up call for business and government to think, act, and invest for the common good.” 

The pandemic will be the spark that transforms the Fourth Industrial Revolution from a catch phrase to a reality. To help businesses preserve their place in a digital-first economy, ESI ThoughtLab is planning several research initiatives open for sponsorship.

Smart City Solutions for a Riskier World. Supported by leading corporate sponsors, such as Deloitte, Intel, Cisco, and NTT, as well as government organizations such as the World Bank, the IFC, and UNECE, this ground-breaking study will explore how 150 cities around the world are using smart solutions to drive resilience, sustainability, and citizen well-being as they emerge from the pandemic.

After the Storm: How the Pandemic will Transform Wealth Management. Based on a survey of 2,500 investors and 500 wealth management service providers, this rigorous study will examine how COVID-19 is irrevocably changing investor behaviors and expectations, and how investment firms are rethinking their products and services, value propositions, and go-to-market strategies in response.

Global Aftershocks: How the Pandemic will Transform Industries and Accelerate the 4th Industrial Revolution. Every industry will go through metamorphosis. For example, financial services will become digital-first businesses, with hyper-personalized customer experiences, while manufacturers will take supply chain, production, and operational agility to the next level. This study will analyze shifts in investment plans and digital strategies across 10 industries, and measure the value it will unlock for business and the world economy.

If you would like to learn more about these studies, or discuss ones that you are planning, please contact me or Barry Rutizer, Corporate Director and Vice President of Client Relationships.
Lou Celi,
Chief Executive Officer
ESI ThoughtLab
Daniel Miles appointed as Chief Operating Officer
ESI ThoughtLab is delighted to announce the promotion of Dr. Daniel Miles to the role of Chief Operating Officer. Dr. Miles was formerly the Chief Economist for ESI ThoughtLab, a position he has held since the firm was created as a joint venture with Econsult Solutions in 2016.

As COO, Dr. Miles will play a key role in managing the firm's day-to-day business and technology operations. He will also work closely with Lou Celi, CEO, in developing innovative thought leadership initiatives that are grounded in evidence-based analysis.
Now released: Driving Cybersecurity Performance
ESI ThoughtLab led a coalition of cybersecurity, cyber insurance, technology, and industry experts to answer a central question: How can firms drive the best cybersecurity performance in today’s complex digital world?

This timely research provides critical insights into how cybersecurity leaders organize for success, where they invest, and which technologies, processes, and analytical tools they leverage. Full findings along with an interactive tool to benchmark your own organization’s cybersecurity maturity are publicly available now.
Cutting-edge insights through economics
ESI ThoughtLab and Industry Experts Launch
Smart City Solutions for a Riskier World
As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to sweep across the globe, ensuring a healthy, safe, and prosperous future for citizens is a burning imperative for city leaders and policy makers. While the pandemic has exposed weaknesses in digital infrastructure needs and continuity planning in interlinked cities, it has also been a catalyst for change. It is accelerating the reliance on smart innovation and e-commerce, transforming citizen behaviors and expectations, and redefining how people work and live. The crisis is also underscoring the critical role of collaboration among business, government, and academia to achieve social, sustainable, and economic goals. 

To provide city leaders with this critical decision support, ESI ThoughtLab is working with a coalition of industry experts, global organizations, and prominent universities including Deloitte, Bentley Systems, Microsoft, the International Finance Corporation, Penn Institute for Urban Research, Carnegie Mellow University, CityAge, GM, Cisco, and others to explore how 150 cities with diverse populations, economies, and locations drive innovation and leverage public-private partnerships to build more resilient, interconnected ecosystems of the future.
COVID-19: The View from the C-Suite
To understand how senior executives are responding to the ongoing COVID-19 crisis, Cognizant commissioned ESI ThoughtLab to conduct a survey of 500 senior executives at US-based companies representing six industries: education, financial services, health care, life sciences, manufacturing, and retail.

COVID-19 has not only upended society and inflicted tragic losses; it has also been a defining moment for business. The pandemic has accelerated the use of modern technology, radically altered customer behavior, short-circuited business operations, and revised how employees get things done. Download the full report today to uncover deep insights and growing trends.
In the wake of a global shutdown, record unemployment, and social restrictions, financial firms are revising their plans for business transformation. Almost all are turning to next-gen technologies to address the complexity ushered in by the pandemic.
The Broadridge Next-Gen Technology Pulse Survey
ESI ThoughtLab conducted a pulse survey for Broadridge, gaining the insights of 500 senior executives at financial services organizations around the world. This study takes the pulse of the market today: where financial firms are, where they are going, and how they will use technology to get there. As these firms adjust to new priorities and opportunities, they are accelerating their plans to implement new technologies and the underlying data and analytics that power them.
ServiceNow Workflow Quarterly: The Customer Issue
The pandemic has exposed the need for significant shifts in nearly everything we do, as well as new business imperatives—to reduce expenses, transition workforces, and digitally transform the enterprise. Though cutting costs may have been the intuitive first response to the COVID-19 crisis, retaining customers is the existential one.

In February-March 2020, ServiceNow and ESI ThoughtLab surveyed C-level executives to learn how companies in five major sectors are digitizing their customer experiences, and the resulting impact on their businesses. The respondents, all C-level and board members, came from 12 countries and represented five industries. 
Access the 2020 Autonomous Vehicle Readiness Index
Developed by KPMG in partnership with ESI ThoughtLab, the AVRI helps measure the level of preparedness for autonomous vehicles across 30 countries and jurisdictions. It is a composite index that combines 28 individual measures from a range of sources into a single score. The 2020 edition adds five new countries: Belgium, Chile, Denmark, Italy, and Taiwan. This year’s report also features coverage of five notable cities – Beijing, Detroit, Helsinki, Pittsburgh, and Seoul – which are undertaking ground-breaking work at a municipal level.
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