January 29, 2021
PART TWO OF AN RSM US MIDDLE MARKET BUSINESS INDEX SPECIAL REPORT
Reopening the Middle Market: Companies Continue Leveraging Technology to Adapt while Awaiting Widespread Vaccination
AS THE PANDEMIC passed the sixth-month mark in the United States, middle market companies were adapting to continued economic disruption by leveraging technology in new ways for both employees and customers and implementing or considering permanent remote work in some cases, proprietary research from RSM US LLP found.
Nearly half of middle market companies responded to the pandemic by implementing technology in ways they hadn’t before, according to the fourth-quarter RSM US Middle Market Business Index survey, which received responses from just over 400 senior executives between Oct. 5 and Oct. 23 on questions related to the pandemic and the economy. (The survey data informed this second part of RSM's special report on reopening the middle market, the first part of which published in October 2020.)Forty-nine percent of respondents leveraged technology for remote work and collaboration in new ways and 46% leveraged customer-facing technology in new ways.
But there is a significant difference between smaller and larger middle market companies on this metric; 57% of organizations with annual revenues from $10 million to $50 million leveraged technology in new ways for remote work, compared to just 42% of companies with annual revenues between $50 million and $1 billion. It is possible that this gap is more about smaller firms playing catch-up than it is about larger firms having different priorities.
Sixty percent of respondents said they anticipated COVID-19-related concerns would prevent the full reopening of the economy for between six months and a year, and 9% anticipated such concerns would prevent a full reopening of the economy for a year or longer.
Unsurprisingly, 82% of businesses surveyed said they expect a full reopening of the U.S. economy will depend, to some extent or to a great extent, on the development of a COVID-19 vaccine, and 79% said such a reopening will depend, to some extent or to a great extent, on a significant percentage of the U.S. population being vaccinated. It is worth noting that current optimism for a full reopening within the next year may be higher than when RSM collected its survey data, given that major vaccine-related announcements from Pfizer, Moderna and AstraZeneca took place after the fieldwork for this report was completed Oct. 23.