LONDON: A majority of brand owners worldwide believe new technology is exerting a transformative effect on their industry, and many expect convergence to define the next decade.

Ricoh, the services firm, allied with the Economist Intelligence Unit, the research group, to survey 567 executives from across the globe.

Almost 60% of respondents predicted their industry would "bear little resemblance" to its current form by 2020, and 45% stated it may converge with other sectors, a view especially widespread for media and entertainment companies.

Despite heavy regulation in most major markets, 70% of financial services providers supported this kind of scenario, a result the analysis argued could be described as "somewhat unexpected".

Some 38% of the organisations represented were concerned about their ability to keep pace with technological change, and risked "losing its competitive edge" as a consequence.

Figures here reached 51% for IT specialists, a third of which asserted their business might "disappear" altogether as needs and habits evolve, versus an average of 13%.

Innovation is another area facing substantial upheaval. At present, R&D teams constitute the main source of new product ideas for 38% of firms, but only 18% suggested this will be the case in 2020.

By contrast, while customers are the primary driver of innovation for 21% of brand owners today, the total is due to hit 30% by the end of the decade.

Online communities posted an expansion from 6% to 19% on this metric, with emerging markets logging an uptick from 5% to 9%.

Elsewhere, 80% of participants agreed the workplace should be increasingly "virtual" by 2020 thanks to mobile services and cloud computing, while 59% thought the concept of "non-digital information will be utterly foreign" to most staff.

Overall, 70% of executives concurred that "significant opportunities" existed for technology to improve the way their business operated, especially in terms of enhancing efficiency.

"While the acceleration of digital information is certain to increase inside organisations, the challenge is to ensure critical business processes, both digital and non-digital are integrated and easily accessed by employees across the organisation," said David Mills, Ricoh Europe's EVP, operations.

Data sourced from Ricoh; additional content by Warc staff