Close this search box.
Close this search box.

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.


  • Get the CEO Briefing

    Sign up today to get weekly access to the latest issues affecting CEOs in every industry
  • upcoming events


    Strategic Planning Workshop

    1:00 - 5:00 pm

    Over 70% of Executives Surveyed Agree: Many Strategic Planning Efforts Lack Systematic Approach Tips for Enhancing Your Strategic Planning Process

    Executives expressed frustration with their current strategic planning process. Issues include:

    1. Lack of systematic approach (70%)
    2. Laundry lists without prioritization (68%)
    3. Decisions based on personalities rather than facts and information (65%)


    Steve Rutan and Denise Harrison have put together an afternoon workshop that will provide the tools you need to address these concerns.  They have worked with hundreds of executives to develop a systematic approach that will enable your team to make better decisions during strategic planning.  Steve and Denise will walk you through exercises for prioritizing your lists and steps that will reset and reinvigorate your process.  This will be a hands-on workshop that will enable you to think about your business as you use the tools that are being presented.  If you are ready for a Strategic Planning tune-up, select this workshop in your registration form.  The additional fee of $695 will be added to your total.

    To sign up, select this option in your registration form. Additional fee of $695 will be added to your total.

    New York, NY: ​​​Chief Executive's Corporate Citizenship Awards 2017

    Women in Leadership Seminar and Peer Discussion

    2:00 - 5:00 pm

    Female leaders face the same issues all leaders do, but they often face additional challenges too. In this peer session, we will facilitate a discussion of best practices and how to overcome common barriers to help women leaders be more effective within and outside their organizations. 

    Limited space available.

    To sign up, select this option in your registration form. Additional fee of $495 will be added to your total.

    Golf Outing

    10:30 - 5:00 pm
    General’s Retreat at Hermitage Golf Course
    Sponsored by UBS

    General’s Retreat, built in 1986 with architect Gary Roger Baird, has been voted the “Best Golf Course in Nashville” and is a “must play” when visiting the Nashville, Tennessee area. With the beautiful setting along the Cumberland River, golfers of all capabilities will thoroughly enjoy the golf, scenery and hospitality.

    The golf outing fee includes transportation to and from the hotel, greens/cart fees, use of practice facilities, and boxed lunch. The bus will leave the hotel at 10:30 am for a noon shotgun start and return to the hotel after the cocktail reception following the completion of the round.

    To sign up, select this option in your registration form. Additional fee of $295 will be added to your total.