Sometimes reinventing the wheel just means putting your own spin on it.

According to a study recently released by IBM and partners from Columbia, Harvard, and Wharton business schools, most of the competition incumbent execs feel isn't coming from startups. Instead, conversations with more than 12,500 participants from six C-suite roles worldwide suggest that disruption is really reinvention—something older and more established companies understand well.

"The C-suite is evenly divided on whether the focus in the future will shift from established markets to new ones. After years of predicting a move to open innovation – sourced externally – a growing number of C-suite executives are now predicting a retreat to proprietary innovation. And yet, a significant number also cite new capabilities – and intentions – for collaborative innovation.

"In two areas, however, C-suite executives stand in close agreement: how they will change their value propositions and scale their value chains. Two-thirds, 68 percent, of C-suite executives expect organizations to emphasize customer experience over products. And 63 percent believe that most organizations will continue to expand their networks of business partners."

Trusted brands that are open to change can orchestrate advantage as well as (and sometimes better than) any newcomer, as long as they stay close to customers, act quickly, and experiment deliberately.

Read the report: Incumbents Strike Back: Insights from the Global C-suite Study from the IBM Institute for Business Value.