According to the study, 54% of C-suite executives (including
CEOs, chief marketing officers, chief information officers, chief
financial officers and other titles) said competition today is
coming from outside of their industries, up from 43% in 2013, when
IBM conducted a similar study.
"The folks we spoke to don't always know where the competition
is coming from, which was one of the most unsettling or eye-opening
issues," said Linda Ban, Global C-Suite Study program director at
IBM's Institute for Business Value, which provides
thought-leadership content for IBM and its customers.
"With the advent of technology, which enables so many things for
so many people, it is now not entirely possible to know where the
competition is coming from," Ms. Ban said. "This whole notion of
being 'Uberized' -- where the competition is coming from a place we
didn't know about -- means things are not necessarily
She pointed to the banking and financial services industry as an
"If someone has a great app and some business knowledge, they
can come in and take a surgical intrusion into your organization --
how to apply for a business loan or how to balance a checkbook, or
how to get your FICO score – and all of a sudden, your
business is being cannibalized."
One outcome of "Uberization" is that customer expectations are
being set by companies that compete in different industries, Ms.
Ban said. For example, the CMO of an insurance company who
participated in the study said expectations on how an organization
needs to service its customers are being set by companies such as
Apple and Amazon, which provide immediacy of response and thorough
To help companies compete in this new environment, IBM gives
businesses some recommendations in the study:
1. Be prepared for "digital invaders." "You
really need to look around and anticipate where the next big thing
or competitor is coming from," Ms. Ban said. "It may be a
competitor that today is a partner or a customer."
2. Implement customer feedback -- don't just ask for
it. The study found that 66% of C-suite leaders expect to
focus on customers as individuals rather than customer segments, up
from 54% in 2013. Also, 81% of C-suite executives said they expect
more digital interaction with customers by 2020, up from 68% in
3. Take advantage of new technologies. When
asked which technologies would be most important to their
businesses in the near term, C-suite leaders cited cloud computing
and services (63%); mobile solutions (61%); the internet of things
(57%); and cognitive computing (37%).