The business world is changing faster than ever and that means new challenges and accompanying anxieties for business leaders. An IBM survey of more than 5000 corporate leaders around the world has identified the fastest-growing sources of executive nightmares.

1. Industry convergence

In the past, the biggest risk to a business was the arrival of a new rival with a slightly better or cheaper product. Now, the greatest concern is that a company from an entirely different sector with a radical new approach will come in and make a land grab.


Source: IBM

Examples of industry convergence include the marriage of consumer electronics with healthcare in products like Fitbit, the entry of Google and Amazon getting into the grocery business, and the competition to hotel chains from Airbnb.

2. The pace of technical change

For four years, technology has been regarded by CEOs as the most important factor shaping their businesses. Now their C-suite colleagues in finance, marketing, technology and other areas have joined them. Technology eclipses market factors as the most important force shaping the competitive climate for businesses.

Competition factors

Source: IBM

3. Cyber-risks

Within technology, IT security barely registered in the 2013 edition of the IBM survey. Two years on, and the rapid growth of things like cloud computing and other examples of external dependencies mean that 68% of executives say risks to the integrity of their IT systems are their biggest concern.

SecuritySource: IBM

Author: Mark Jones is Head of Digital Content at the World Economic Forum.

Image: A Japanese businessman scratches his head as he gazes at stock prices outside a Tokyo securities brokerage August 28, 2001.