Top 6 Key Business Risk Areas to Focus in 2022 for Boards of Directors

The unpredictability of the pandemic has majorly affected the global economy, how companies are fundamentally run, workplace dynamics and professional connectivity. Every year, the Gartner Board of Directors Survey releases statistics to show what are the main concerns projected by companies for the upcoming year. This helps give companies a clear outline of what their priorities need to be going forward and how to manage any foreseeable business risk in the current pandemic scenario. Here are six important takeaways:

1. Risk appetite increase: Companies have increased or will have to increase their capacity to recognize, assess and meet risks and unpredictable developments in the coming years, as this pandemic makes its way forward. This important shift in the company mindset is crucial to its survival. While being conservative in decision-making has been the norm of the past, about 57% of companies from the survey believe that they need to be prepared with data, analytics, predictive software and pattern recognition. While risk can no longer be dodged, companies now must focus on distinguishing between the good and bad ones.

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2. Economic uncertainty: Said to be the top risk for businesses everywhere, the unpredictability of the economic climate has been and continues to be a big challenge to coexist with. The change in consumer behavior has been the most significant result of economic uncertainty, and this is what companies are concerned about in terms of how their purchasing habits have been altered due to the pandemic and how they can be expected to change over time.

3. ESG & DEI-related concerns: There is an increasing number of companies that believe it is time we merged corporate goals with societal goals. This refers to diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI), which 26% of board directors now consider an important topic of discussion at their quarterly meetings. 31% consider environmental, social and corporate governance (ESG) to be another priority. Thanks to the pandemic, potential investors now evaluate companies based on their implementation of DEI and ESG. 

4. Cybersecurity: Since the entire world now functions mostly online, it’s no wonder that cybercrime is more prevalent than ever before. Cybersecurity has a sizable impact on companies, with 58% considering cybersecurity as important catapulting to 88% in 5 years. It is no longer merely a technological factor, but a solid business risk that companies need to present as such.

5. Going digital: Digital business strategies still remain in the top priority list across boards, despite their drop in popularity by 12% in the survey. The good thing is that the other emerging risk priorities all support the digital business strategy, so it gets its due attention in the long run anyway.

6. Digital business budgets: Companies are now shifting out of the previously tried and tested centralized technology IT budget, and moving towards business functions. While IT initially owned the budget, it now serves not only as mentor, but also facilitator and orchestrator in helping functions deliver results, and leveraging technology budgets.

Reference: From “6 Key Takeaways from the Gartner Board of Directors Survey” | Kasey Panetta, Gartner | 21 October, 2021

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