Tech CEOs Feel the Heat as their Competitors Bite Back

It's not just CEOs in traditional industries such as auto and banking that are looking over their shoulder at tech companies. A new survey shows that tech executives themselves are growing increasingly concerned about disruption, signaling the businesses they've been threatening are finally fighting back.

More than two-thirds of the 580 tech-company senior executives questioned by professional services firm KPMG said disruptive technologies are having a positive impact on their organization. But less than a third said they were “very prepared” to address disruptive technologies in their strategic vision.

And they’re not so much worried about each other as threats from outside, with 78% somewhat to extremely concerned about non-technology firms becoming technology firms.

“The disruptors have become the disrupted,” KPMG’s Gary Matuszak said. “And the sheer speed at which disruptive technologies are changing the landscape is replacing optimism with concerns for technology executives.”

“The disruptors have become the disrupted. And the sheer speed at which disruptive technologies are changing the landscape is replacing optimism with concerns for technology executives.

The auto sector provides a good example of where traditional companies such as Ford and Toyota are dealing with threats from tech-sector giants such as Google and Uber. In recent months, they’ve either acquired stakes in companies developing ride-sharing services and automated driving technology, improved their own electric car models or created artificial intelligence subsidiaries.

But while expanding into these new fields, they’ve been able to hold onto a major capability that could give them an edge over pure tech plays: they can efficiently manufacture millions of individual cars quickly.

Many tech companies have also benefited from the development of cutting-edge software, though that’s falling into the hands of competitors.

“With software increasingly core to every kind of business, from retailers to healthcare providers to automakers, technology firms are being disrupted by everyone,” Matuszak said.

His advice to CEOs from all industries is to understand that being an early mover isn’t necessarily about entering new markets first. It could also mean being quick to exploit the power of existing disruptive technologies in products, marketing and manufacturing.

At least in the tech sector, it appears executives are willing to cast a wide net. The Internet of Things and and data and analytics technology were their most popular investment choices, with both adopted by 61% of respondents. Cloud computing came next with 60%, followed by marketing platforms at 59%.

A host of other innovations have also been adopted by tech companies, according to KPMG, with none of them scoring below 45%. These include, in descending order: mobile technology, digital payments, artificial intelligence, wearable devices and social media, virtual reality, robotics and 3D printing.

To learn more about the digitization of a wide range of industries, with presentations by leaders from companies as varied as 1-800-Flowers, Roche, AT&T, Dow Chemical and IBM Watson, sign up for Chief Executive’s Digital Transformation Summit, December 6 in NYC.


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