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.
Have you read?
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.
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)
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.