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Amazon, Apple, Alibaba top list of disruptors most concerning to tech companies: KPMG report

Amazon, Apple, Alibaba top list of tech disruptors

E-commerce most disruptive business model; Sundar Pichai cited as top visionary

Jennifer Samuel

Director, Global Communications

KPMG International


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Amazon, Apple and Alibaba top the list of companies that tech industry leaders worry most about disrupting their business. 

In a survey of more than 740 technology industry business leaders globally, Amazon, Apple and Alibaba were selected most often. DJI, Google, Netflix, Airbnb, Microsoft, Facebook, and Baidu round out the Top 10 list. The disruptors' list complements the fact that tech industry leaders ranked e-commerce platforms first and social networking second as the most disruptive business models over the next three years.

Read KPMG's new report on disruptive technology companies, business models, and leading tech industry visionaries.

“The question is can the companies on this list, and those seeking to join the list, run the gauntlet of evolving competition, regulation, and geopolitics while remaining innovative and nimble enough to retain their leadership positions and aspirations,” said Tim Zanni, KPMG Global Technology Sector Leader.

Redefining tech companies

Another interesting aspect of the company disruptor list is that it illustrates how innovation has redefined what a tech company is. “Amazon, Netflix, Alibaba and Airbnb are great examples of tech-enabled companies that in the traditional sense might not have been considered to be in the tech sector, yet are absolutely associated with that sector as many define it today,” said Zanni. 

“Being identified as a “tech company” grants you more cachet among investors, customers, employees and in recruiting,” Zanni said. “Though, as we have seen, scrutiny of the tech industry has increased exponentially and some companies may not aggressively embrace the `tech company' label.”

E-commerce, social networking most disruptive business models

In maintaining its position atop the list of most-disruptive business models over the next few years, e-commerce continues to capture attention with its dramatic growth prospects. Global e-commerce spending is expected to increase from US$3.5 trillion in 2019 to $6.5 trillion in 2023, according to eMarketer.

Social networking was second on the business models list. Similar to e-commerce companies, social media companies are striving to capture ever-larger shares of the consumer's attention and wallet, with new offerings like exclusive and original content, live sporting events, augmented/virtual reality, educational services, and cryptocurrencies. As of January 2019, more than three billion people, over 40% of the world's population, were using social media on mobile devices, according to a report from We Are Social and Hootsuite Media. 

KPMG's survey also asked global technology industry executives to name their favorite apps. Social media apps dominated the top portion of the list, following Google/Google Chrome, with Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and Twitter, WhatsApp (tied) completing the Top 5. 

Millennials and visionaries

KPMG's study found some divergent views between tech industry millennials and tech industry leaders on the topic of emerging global technology innovation visionaries. Among tech business leaders, Google CEO Sundar Pichai topped the list, followed by Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk. View the complete list (PDF).

While tech industry millennials cited many of the same visionaries as tech leaders, millennials also identified Huawei CEO Ren Zhengfei, Xiaomi CEO Lei Jun, and SoftBank CEO Masayoshi Son. 

“Knowing who these visionaries are, their characteristics, and their leadership styles may help tech companies and other stakeholders to better understand the interests and expectations of the millennial workforce  - tomorrow's future leaders  - who may have, or develop, similar interests and attributes,” Zanni said. 

About KPMG International

KPMG is a global network of professional services firms providing Audit, Tax and Advisory services. We operate in 153 countries and territories and have 207,000 people working in member firms around the world. The independent member firms of the KPMG network are affiliated with KPMG International Cooperative ("KPMG International"), a Swiss entity. Each KPMG firm is a legally distinct and separate entity and describes itself as such. 

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