In line with their rising valuations, technology CEOs are bullish on the world economy and their own companies’ prospects. That’s the main finding from 127 technology respondents to PwC’s 21st CEO survey. On the cautionary side, however, we found that technology CEOs are concerned about cyber attacks and the supply of digital talent.
Nearly all technology leaders (91%) expect global economic growth to improve or stay the same in 2018, similar to last year. Given the strength of the world economy in 2017, even a continuance of the same rate would be quite good news. That optimism extends to their own companies’ prospects, where 87% were somewhat or very confident of revenue growth in 2018, and 93% over the next three years.
To achieve that growth, most of them (82%) are leaning on organic growth, while only half are looking to alliances, acquisition, or cost reduction. Only 11% expect to sell a business or exit a market.
Technology companies are facing calls for greater regulation. Governments are especially concerned about the largest companies, whose popular platforms, they say, are diminishing competition, undermining privacy, and weakening social ties. In the survey, conducted in the fall of 2017, only 36% of tech leaders were extremely concerned about over-regulation. That number would surely be higher now in 2018.
Thanks to their strong results, technology firms may seem well positioned to meet these concerns while protecting their businesses. But this challenge could have a dramatic effect. Suddenly, the leaders of this industry are being asked to mature quickly and think differently about the social and political impact of their offerings. As startups, these companies thrived with an aggressive, competitive culture which did not always pay attention to outside points of view. Companies now need a more cooperative approach that surfaces problems in advance of launch and works with regulators and other stakeholders, not against them.