Australia's finance directors don't think much of digital disruption as a risk

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Most chief financial officers in Australia don’t think much of technology as a disruption threat to their businesses. They believe the single biggest disruptor is existing local competition, according to the American Express CFO Future-Proofing Survey survey.

The survey of 250 CFOs at mid-sized companies with revenue of between $2 million and $300 million shows they are most concerned by what’s already on their doorsteps (38%) rather than by new disturbances from left field.

The second biggest threat they see is new market entrants from overseas (18%), followed by existing international competition (11%).

Only 9% of CFOs put technology as the most disruptive factor.

Overall, nearly half (48%) say disruption is negatively impacting their business at a time when one-third (34%) haven’t experienced business growth in the past three years and 28% predict no growth in the 12 months.

In contrast, the third of companies embracing disruptive change and harnessing opportunities forecast double digit growth in the next year.

Findings from the survey:

  • Companies positively impacted by disruption and recording strong growth are recruiting staff with new skills (38%), reaching new customers (32%) and looking at overseas expansion (26%).
  • Those negatively impacted by disruption are now developing new products/services and investing in new technology.
  • 20% of mid-sized businesses cite disruption as positively impacting their business.
  • The level of acceptance for trying new ideas and innovation without fear of failure is increasing – up 7% on 2014 figures to 80%.

Some of the survey results at a glance:

The research reveals disruption is wide-spread, reaching almost every sector in Australia.

Two thirds (67%) of CFOs confirm disruption is currently taking place in their businesses and 40% say their companies are more focused on managing disruption today than a year ago.

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