Tech company CEOs plan to ramp up automated work in the next three years, according to a recent survey from audit, tax and advisory services firm KMPG. But fear not, humans–most of these leaders also plan to increase their headcounts by at least 6 percent in the same timeframe, allowing employees more chances to use digital tech to innovate.

The survey of 138 U.S. technology CEOs spanned internet, hardware, software, cloud and IT services companies.

“Tech CEOs see the benefits of digital labor augmenting workforce capabilities and enabling new ways of doing business to add customer value, improve efficiencies and reduce cost,” said Gary Matuszak, global and US chair of KPMG’s Technology, Media and Telecommunications

Practice, in a release. “They see the combination of digital and human labor as an effective way to execute their strategy.”

SEE: Co-bots: Ford’s experiment in robot-human collaboration where no one loses their job

About three-fourths of US tech industry CEOs said they believe that automation and machine learning are likely to replace at least 5% of their manufacturing, technology, sales and marketing workforce over the next three years. But more than half of the leaders said they expect their company to grow by at least 6% more employees.

“It’s my firm belief that no matter how much of the work we do today is automated, there will always be a need for the human factor when it comes to certain aspects of business, such as making important business decisions or maintaining client relationships,” said Heather R. Huhman, founder and president of Come Recommended, a content marketing and digital PR consultancy for job search and human resources technologies.

Automation of services isn’t meant to replace workers, she added, but rather to support and enhance the way they do their work. Therefore, as automation increases, so will the need for people who can work hand-in-hand with these automated tools.

Meeting priorities

CEO priorities for the coming three years include:

  • Digitizing their business
  • Strengthening client focus
  • Implementing disruptive technology (80% of CEOs said they already use disruptive technologies to improve products and services)
  • Minimizing cybersecurity risks
  • Developing talent

To meet these priorities, 60% of CEOs said they are hiring new talent, and 49% said they are forming new partnerships and alliances. Eight out of 10 CEOs see growth through partnerships or collaboration with other companies as a way to drive shareholder value in the coming years.

Product relevancy three years from now are a top concern for the CEOs, 93% reported. Other large concerns are the impact of global economic forces on business, and how millennials will change their business practices.

“I think we’ll begin to see a greater emphasis on the ability and willingness to work with the various automated services that companies will be embracing in the coming years,” Huhman said. “Naturally, that will mean an increase in attracting and hiring younger generations of talent who have grown up alongside such tools.”

The 3 big takeaways for TechRepublic readers

  1. A recent survey of tech CEOs from KMPG found that most CEOs plan to increase automated work as well as human workforces over the next three years.
  2. The top priorities for CEOs in the coming two years include digitizing their business, strengthening their client focus, and implementing disruptive technology.
  3. Despite the rise of automation, humans will always be needed to make important business decisions and maintain client relationships, experts say.