Disruption is the main concern that keeps chief executives awake at night - although global confidence is returning

Emma Haslett
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Chief execs see new market entrants such as Uber as a huge concern - although keeping up with technology is also a worry (Source: Getty)

What with Uber, Airbnb and their ilk wreaking havoc in their respective industries, you can't help but sympathise: a new study has shown the main worry keeping chief executives awake at night is the prospect of disruption in their industry.

According to the Global CEO Outlook Study, by accounting giant KPMG, 74 per cent of chief execs are concerned about new entrants disrupting their business model, while 72 per cent are worried about keeping up with new technologies.

Meanwhile, 69 per cent have the more traditional concern over competitors' ability to take business away from their organisations, while 66 per cent are worried about the relevance of their company's products three years from now.

Still - at least confidence is improving. Some 70 per cent of British chief executives have more confidence about the UK's prospects for growth than they did a year ago, although that's higher than the global average of 61 per cent.

Nightmare scenario: Here's what bosses are losing sleep over

1. New entrants disrupting our business model - 74%

2. Keeping current with new techologies - 72%

3. Competitors' ability to take business - 69%

4. Relevance of my company's products three years from now - 66%

That said, UK chief execs are among Europe's least optimistic, with 90 per cent of Spanish bosses, 80 per cent of French bosses and 89 per cent of Italian bosses having more confidence than they did a year ago. German chiefs, though, were a decidedly pessimistic bunch: just over half of them were feeling more confident.

Meanwhile, just a third of US chief execs said they were more confident about growth in their economy, which may reflect fears of the Federal Reserve tightening monetary policy.

Either way, the report suggested that pressure on chief executives is intensifying.

"Changes in many industries mean business leaders must evolve or transform business models to stay relevant," it said.

"No one has the luxury of thinking in terms of decades. Chief executives must find ways to accelerate implementation much earlier in the... development process."

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