Survey: Tech CEOs Investing in Talent, Machine Learning

Professional services company KPMG interviewed 138 CEOs in the U.S. tech industry and found a pattern: automation and machine learning are top priorities, as tech companies realize the best way to stay competitive is to commit resources to the latest IT.

A full 70% of U.S. tech CEOs said their approach to innovation is strategic or accelerated, and a full 80% say they’re using disruptive technologies to improve their products and services, according to the KPMG survey results. About 75% said automation and machine learning will likely replace at least 5% of their workforce (in the sales, marketing, technology and manufacturing departments) over the next three years.

“Emerging technologies are reshaping all industries to the point that most companies will become software companies, blurring the lines between product, service and industry categories,” said Gary Matuszak, global and U.S. chair of technology, media and telecommunications for KPMG. “The most successful companies will be those that can most effectively prioritize and monetize emerging technology opportunities as part of their overall company strategy and take advantage of new cross-industry collaboration and partnerships.”

Digitizing their businesses (21%) and implementing disruptive technologies were two of the top three strategic priorities listed among tech CEOs, yet only 22% said that their company’s approach to innovation has any type of strategy behind it. And with all this new technology, it was no surprise that the No. 1 concern when it comes to IT risks is cybersecurity, with 38% of tech CEOs listing that as the biggest pitfall.

“With cyber risks and security threats expanding constantly, so is the pressure on CEOs of technology companies to develop new solutions and maintain effective security — not only on their own systems, but also in providing their customers with solutions to improve and maintain information security and privacy,” the report reads. “Tech industry CEOs recognize the importance of building security into new products and services at the design stage and realize that cybersecurity is not an IT issue: it stands as a top C-suite strategy and requires cross-functional investment and execution.

“Leading tech CEOs are working with their COOs, CFOs, CIOs, and CSOs to find the right balance of people, investments and technology. Cybersecurity is a risk and, like any other risk, it needs to be measured, understood and managed.”