8 technology trends for innovative leaders in a post-pandemic world

3D earth graphic symbolizing global trade, vector illustration - technology trends
Which technology trends should leaders look out for?
Image: Freepik.
  • COVID-19 has profoundly altered the way we live and work, and the way we consume.
  • These changes have led to an explosion of new technologies and innovation, forcing business to rapidly adapt or disappear.
  • We asked eight Young Global Leaders how they will leverage technology trends and innovate to become better leaders in 2022.

Historically, times of great crisis lead to times of great innovation. During crises, we are confronted with an opportunity to think differently and create rapid change that can have long-lasting impact. The COVID-19 crisis is no exception. According to research by McKinsey & Company, COVID-19 has dramatically accelerated the adoption of new technologies, and many of these are here to stay.

Organizations were forced to adopt new technologies overnight to survive, or risk becoming irrelevant. As a result, almost every sector has altered the way they interact and do business with their customers over the past two years.

Advances in AI, robotics and automation have accelerated over the course of the pandemic. Automatic temperature checks and new biosensors infused with AI facial mask detection are now adopted in places around the world. Jobs lost during the pandemic are also being replaced by robots and AI faster than ever.

The mRNA vaccines, stemming from technology considered fringe not so long ago, were developed and deployed to billions of people in a fraction of the time for a normal vaccine development process. The implementation of digital infrastructure across all industries has reshaped the way we work and has allowed for new collaborations across geographies and sectors.

Estimated amount of data created on the internet in one minute in 2021. Source: Statista.
Estimated amount of data created on the internet in one minute in 2021. Source: Statista.

This rapid, forced adaptation can come at a cost. Particularly for SMEs, the path to digitalization is sometimes out of reach. In a recent World Economic Forum survey, 40% of SMEs surveyed ceased their activities during the pandemic, leading to layoffs and other cost-cutting measures.

Leaders today are faced with the task of taking difficult decisions that can have a profound impact on their workforce and employee wellbeing (although it’s not all grim) in a very uncertain environment. New risks have also emerged with the staggering amount of data created on the internet, such as cyber-attacks that are increasingly frequent and costly.

What our Young Global Leaders know well is that it’s easy to lead when times are going well, but real responsibility emerges when you must stand up for what you believe in. Responsible leaders truly shine in times of crisis. With this in mind, we asked eight Young Global Leaders how they will leverage technology and innovate to become better leaders in 2022.

Better strategic planning through game theory and AI

Silvia Console Battilana, Co-Founder and CEO, Auctionomics

New computational and AI tools are already being used by business leaders to guide strategic decision-making. In the next decade, this software will become more powerful and will be applied in new and different settings. Built upon the mathematics of game theory, AI tools harness the computational innovations that power chess engines.

But they are no longer limited to simple zero-sum games: today’s AI can solve much more complex (and more human) problems, by identifying unseen patterns and finding new paths to strategic goals. Already used to help telecommunications companies compete in high-stakes auctions and by CEOs to evaluate corporate structures, AI analysis will be indispensable to tomorrow’s leaders.

More information, managed better

Zachary Bogue, Co-Founder and Managing Partner, Data Collective (DCVC)

Leaders need real-time data. Credit: Freepik.
Leaders need real-time data. Credit: Freepik.

A leader’s access to new information is growing at a staggering rate. To lead effectively in the 2020s and beyond, businesses and governments must ingest, analyze and act upon this data in real-time. Unless well managed, however, flows of information cannot be used to guide decisions and can even hinder leadership.

New tools combine greater access to data and better platforms to view, summarize, and analyze it. Satellite start-ups provide not only greater temporal resolution, but also change detecting algorithms to identify important developments over vast terrain. Machine learning helps enable cutting edge analysis of streaming data, while also providing data catalogs to help make sense of convoluted large company database architectures built up over time. Customized internet-of-things networks sense and report inputs across distributed networks, but also automatically predict problems. Good information is the foundation of sound leadership – we need more data, but also the right technology to put it to work.

Roadmapping, agility and data-first decision making

Christina K. Lopes, CEO & Founder, The One Health Company

Here are three leadership lessons I learned in SIlicon Valley: roadmapping; agility; and data-first decision making. Tech is obsessed with roadmaps which distinguish what must come first. Saying “no” is paramount. Agility implies flexibility and motion despite obstacles. Daily stand-up meetings, unblock frictions instead of burying problems. Data-first values data-driven hypotheses (vs. assumptions/biases). Combined, these lessons create feedback loops to keep an organization moving in the right direction, quickly, and navigating uncertainty along the way. The application of tech principles helped us tackle cancer for dogs and humans – on both sides of the leash.

What is the World Economic Forum doing about the Fourth Industrial Revolution?

The World Economic Forum was the first to draw the world’s attention to the Fourth Industrial Revolution, the current period of unprecedented change driven by rapid technological advances. Policies, norms and regulations have not been able to keep up with the pace of innovation, creating a growing need to fill this gap.

The Forum established the Centre for the Fourth Industrial Revolution Network in 2017 to ensure that new and emerging technologies will help—not harm—humanity in the future. Headquartered in San Francisco, the network launched centres in China, India and Japan in 2018 and is rapidly establishing locally-run Affiliate Centres in many countries around the world.

The global network is working closely with partners from government, business, academia and civil society to co-design and pilot agile frameworks for governing new and emerging technologies, including artificial intelligence (AI), autonomous vehicles, blockchain, data policy, digital trade, drones, internet of things (IoT), precision medicine and environmental innovations.

Learn more about the groundbreaking work that the Centre for the Fourth Industrial Revolution Network is doing to prepare us for the future.

Want to help us shape the Fourth Industrial Revolution? Contact us to find out how you can become a member or partner.

Using technology to amplify human insight and talent

Sarah Chen, Co-Founder and Managing Partner, Beyond the Billion & The Billion Dollar Fund for Women

If the pandemic has taught us anything, it is that there needs to be a leadership revolution to address an unprecedented reality. More than ever, technology plays a critical role in leaders reshaping the way we work, live, and in solving some of the world’s toughest challenges. Advances in robotics, AI, data and analytics now automate operations that offer precision and scale.

Digital infrastructure has now replaced the physical workplace in a significant way, enabling leaders to build a more productive, balanced workforce with asynchronous work schedules. In the world of venture, technology has leveled the playing field by removing bias that worked against founders and funders that would have otherwise been overlooked. The next challenge is in continuing to build shared purpose, while using technology to amplify human insight and talent.

Technology that keeps employees connected, safe and productive

Soulaima Gourani, Co-founder and CEO, Happioh.com

Hybrid working is the future. Credit: Pexels.
Hybrid working is the future. Credit: Pexels.

Staggering data shows that almost one in five people are wasting more than a third of their time at work – 52% of all workers are feeling burned out. Leaders are to find ways to safeguard employees' precious time and organizational excellence and reduce repetitive work. Hybrid work has challenged leaders worldwide. Some are hoping we will return to "the good old days.”

Forward-looking and innovative companies are implementing new software, hardware, AI, and other technological advancements to keep employees connected, safe, productive and attract talent. There should be no denying the incredible impact tech in the workplace has had on the traditional office and how it will continue to disrupt the future of work.

AI can both maximize profit and accelerate inclusive growth

Nick Talwar, President and CEO, CircleUp

At CircleUp, AI supports investment decisions by using data – versus heuristics – to determine which entrepreneurs and small businesses are poised to win. Our platform also acts as a source of good by exposing profit and inclusion-blocking biases in the historically human-driven investment process. AI is the driving force that enables us to find the very best businesses to invest in regardless of geography, gender, or race.

To date, 50% of our investments have gone to women and 35% to people of colour while maintaining top-quartile venture results and less than a 2% lending loss rate. In 2022, we aim to continue our journey from a demonstration model to a scaled player, showcasing how AI can both maximize profit and accelerate inclusive growth.

Cyber-security is the pillar of trust in the digital economy

Shira Kaplan, Founder and CEO, Cyverse AG

MarketsandMarkets.com expects the global cybersecurity market to grow from $138 billion in 2017 to $232 billion by 2022, at a CAGR of 11%. In Israel alone, cyber-security startups raised $ 8.8 billion in the course of 2021. In 2022, at Cyverse AG we will adhere to our commitment to protecting the European digital economy – from Tier-1 enterprises to SMEs – with next-generation cyber-security solutions.

Concurrently, we will continue to invest heavily into early-stage cyber-security technologies through Cyverse Capital. Cyber-security is the pillar of trust in the digital economy; we’re on a mission to build a cyber-secure future for European enterprises.

Enhanced decision making based on data insights

Laure Forgeron, Managing Director – Head P&C Facultative EMEA, Swiss Reinsurance Company

We all take decisions every day in our personal or professional lives, some based on instinct, experience, or pattern. In the re/insurance industry, we access a large amount of data that we can leverage for decision making to better steer our business and develop our people. Recognising and enhancing our decision pattern based on data insights will be paramount to taking better decisions more efficiently in the future.

To do so in our daily jobs in 2022, my team will support data platform development and leverage more systematically data insights in selecting risks. I have no doubt that successful digital transformation must go hand in hand with the upskilling of my team in data literacy together with a high level of empowerment. The combination of Swiss Re's excellent data and the ability of my team to generate insights from that data is our core differentiator that helps our clients succeed. I am curious and excited by the learning journey ahead.

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