Technology Industry CEO Outlook

Insights on technology transformation, risk, talent, and ESG in the technology industry in 2023 and beyond.

Insights on technology transformation, risk, talent, and ESG in the technology industry .


KPMG Technology Industry CEO Outlook, featuring insights from Chief Executive Officers (CEOs) from 110 large global technology companies, the survey finds the vast majority (85%) see a recession as likely in the next 12 months, and the most pressing concern for tech CEOs is economic factors impacting their business. However, another overwhelming majority (86%) are confident about their company’s growth prospects over the next three years, whether through M&A, strategic partnerships, or other avenues, tech companies that make a concerted effort to hold onto their people and that continue to drive value by investing in cyber and ESG stand to gain the most over the long-term. 

Technology transformation

Tech CEOs think digital investment remains a priority, but external threats and organizational obstacles still exist. 64% prioritize capital investment in buying new technology, as opposed to 36% who prioritize investment in developing their workforce's skills and capabilities. What this means for tech companies:

Start with the strategy: With 69% of tech CEOs saying the decision-making process on what technology to use is holding back their transformations, it's important to stay focused.

Get close to the customer: Focus on direct investments to capabilities that propel strong customer experiences. To retain customers and market share, companies must think differently about how to use technologies to better deliver on audience expectations. Additionally, companies must carry out future scoping to ensure technology selection and workflow design align with customer needs and expectations. This will help integrate the kind of excellent digital experiences that encourage customer loyalty through good and bad times.

Bring your people and technology together: Tech companies have invested significantly in new digital solutions and will continue to do so. But technology solutions alone will not achieve the business goals if they are only understood and utilized by a select few employees. The entire workforce must be brought on the transformation journey, through effective change management, to maximize adoption and use the new technologies to their full potential.

Consider strategic M&A: It can be time-consuming to adapt new technologies in-house and (re)train existing employees. To open up new markets or acquire talent and new technologies, M&A can accelerate growth and digital transformation efforts.

Risk insights

Top five threats to the growth of technology companies over the next three years are Operational issues (14%), Emerging/Disruptive tech (12%), Reputational risk (12%), Political uncertainty (11%), and Interest rates (9%). What this means for tech companies:

Mitigate operational issues by becoming a connected enterprise: A lack of alignment between functions and systems can hinder the ability to deliver smooth customer experiences. By harnessing technology and supporting organizational changes, tech companies can focus every operational process and function through the front, middle, and back offices on meeting customer expectations. Connected enterprises gain the insights, agility, and alignment to generate new levels of customer value in a digital-first world.

Recognize cybersecurity as a strategic function: Cyber is no longer an IT issue. It's a pervasive, fundamental business imperative. The increase in cyberattacks, coupled with the difficulty of detecting an attack in time, calls for both automation technology solutions and building a human firewall.

Emerging tech to drive growth: Should a recessionary environment emerge, it is likely to cause many tech companies to make tough choices about emerging technology investments. Digital leaders, however, are likely to accelerate emerging technology adoption to empower customer centricity. But digital leaders can also leverage core technology, namely automation, as a critical cost lever. Together, that spells not just growth but profitable growth.

Climate change can't be ignored: Even though climate change ranks in the middle tier of perceived threats, if unaddressed, its impact can overflow into other risk areas such as operational issues, corporate reputation, regulatory concerns, and supply chain. There is only going to be one kind of economy in the future – a low-carbon economy – and investments tech companies make now will position them to thrive throughout the transition.

Talent insights

Talent is a top operational priority prompting tech companies to improve the employee experience. 67% see their workforce being fully remote or hybrid going forward, compared to only 35% across all industries. What this means for tech companies:

Embrace different ways of working: As some industries and organizations launch return-to-office plans, it's important for tech CEOs to develop working structures that suit their people. Active listening, empathetic communication, and a commitment to finding the right approach over the long-term will be key to delivering an exceptional employee experience, reducing burnout, and retaining skilled workers. Remote work options, especially, expand the talent pool geographically.

Avoid short-sighted workforce decisions, even in a recession: Intellectual prowess is the greatest resource for tech companies. Regardless of the economic climate, leaders need to invest in developing their top performers. For companies considering tough workforce options, making short-term decisions to let talent go can have negative long-term consequences.

Use technology to develop and retain talent: The investments that tech companies have made into tools, and their own custom platforms, during the pandemic have paid off in terms of employee productivity and collaboration. The sector has readily engaged automation technology, in particular for transactional tasks, freeing employees to be upskilled to deliver other knowledge-based work that is in high demand but short supply. Automation technology creates opportunities for learning new skills, exposure, and career growth.

Explain your purpose: A business's purpose is increasingly seen as a differentiator. According to 75% of tech CEOs, corporate purpose will be important for strengthening employee engagement and value proposition over the next three years.

ESG insights

ESG is good for business, yet challenges remain. 55% agree that ESG programs improve financial performance, up from 38% last year. What this means for tech companies:

Openly acknowledge ESG's importance to the business: Tech CEOs increasingly agree that ESG programs improve financial performance. It includes securing talent, strengthening the employee value proposition, attracting loyal customers, and raising capital.

Do not skimp on ESG during a recession: It may be tempting to consider cutting ESG spending, but now is the time to take a long-term approach and double down on ESG efforts. Tech CEOs that keep up their ESG momentum stand to not only improve financial performance, but also gain greater trust with their employees, investors, customers, and other stakeholders.

Invest in real-time supply chain technologies: Tech companies should monitor their supply chains more deeply. To do this, global supply chain leaders are starting to double down on investing in technology – including real-time, end-to-end analytics to identify where issues exist and improve visibility across the entire value chain.

Strive to measure the progress and effectiveness of ESG initiatives: Increasing measurement and governance to build a more robust and transparent approach to ESG initiatives is among the top accelerators of ESG strategies at tech companies. Stakeholders increasingly want to know how companies contribute to society, and regulatory bodies are implementing mandatory climate disclosure rules.

Build strong connections among functions: Resilient organizations have well-connected internal teams, allowing, for example, the finance function to know what the ESG team is doing. Consider moving some ESG reporting to the financial function to imbue ESG reporting with the same rigors and controls as financial reporting.

About the survey

The eighth edition of the KPMG CEO Outlook, which surveyed 1,325 global CEOs in the third quarter of 2022, provides distinct insight into the mindset, strategies, and planning tactics of CEOs. All respondents led organizations with annual revenues exceeding $500 million, and over one-third had more than $10 billion in annual revenue. There were 110 respondents from the technology industry.

The views and opinions expressed herein are those of the survey respondents and do not necessarily represent the views and opinions of KPMG.

About KPMG International

KPMG is a global organization of independent professional services firms providing Audit, Tax, and Advisory services. We operate in 143 countries and territories and FY22 had close to 265,000 people working in member firms around the world. Each KPMG firm is a legally distinct and separate entity and describes itself as such.

About KPMG in Thailand

KPMG in Thailand, with more than 2,000 professionals offering Audit and Assurance, Legal, Tax, and Advisory services, is a member firm of the KPMG global organization of independent member firms affiliated with KPMG International Limited, a private English company limited by guarantee.

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Ploi Phayakvichien
Manager, KPMG in Thailand