• Mon. Jan 30th, 2023

7 chief digital officers on how they are navigating an unstable world

  • Technology can be a stabilizing factor in a changing world, enhancing business resiliency.
  • Chief digital officers should scale use of data and artificial intelligence, while investing on emerging technologies, such as quantum computing.
  • The roadmap to meeting the 2030 SDGs rests on competitive and responsible development of technology by business.

Against a backdrop of global shocks, fragmented systems and an uncertain business environment, we asked chief digital officers from diverse industries about their priorities for technology leadership in 2023. They highlighted the need to double down on digital innovation that creates meaningful and responsible outcomes for people and the planet.

Global net zero commitments from businesses and governments are projected to decrease GHG emissions by 7.5% by 2030 – we need 55% to meet global goals. Filling this gap will require rewiring high emitting sectors around efficiency, circularity, and sustainability.

Research from the World Economic Forum’s Digital and Climate Network and Accenture estimates that digital technologies, if scaled, can deliver up to 20% of the reductions we need by 2050 in high emission industries: Energy, Materials, Mobility and Buildings. Depending on how quickly digital technologies are adopted, these industries can realize between 4 and 10% emissions reduction by 2030.

To inspire more adoption and collaboration, the Forum recently launched a Digital Solutions Explorer of 30+ high-impact digital solutions with “getting started” guidance to enable companies to progress outcomes in efficiency, circularity and scope 3 transparency.

The Forum is also curating an inventory of leading lighthouse examples from partner companies that have implemented digital technologies to reduce their carbon footprint and deliver economic growth.

To achieve scale and the industry transformation needed to reach net zero goals, companies need to work together to replicate these digital solutions and tackle shared challenges to scaling. To learn more and get involved in the Forum’s Digital and Climate Network, visit our website.

To enhance consumer experience, business resilience and competitiveness, leaders must continue to scale the use of technologies of today, such as data, cloud and artificial intelligence, while also investing in frontier technologies such as metaverse, quantum computing and synthetic biology to open up a new era of discovery.

‘Innovate with cloud, AI and metaverse’

Paul Daugherty, Accenture

In an uncertain world, technology innovation is the one certainty that you can rely upon to tackle seemingly intractable challenges and accelerate business and societal progress.

Cloud, artificial intelligence and metaverse are the defining technology trends that will shape our future. Leading companies are turning to these technologies to foster resilience, accelerate growth, optimize operations and reinvent their capacity for innovation – setting the stage for top-line growth through and beyond a period of economic uncertainty.

In an uncertain world, technology innovation is the one certainty that you can rely upon to tackle seemingly intractable challenges

—Paul Daugherty, Accenture

‘Start with the customers’

Parag Parekh, IKEA Retail (Ingka Group)

Ingvar Kamprad, IKEA’s founder once said: “What is good for our customers is also, in the long run, good for us”, and these words continue to be a driving force in the company’s journey to creating seamless omnichannel experiences that inspire customers and empower co-workers.

IKEA is transforming its business model, and technology will continue to be a key enabler in helping build its competitive edge. A recent example is IKEA Kreativ, which combines decades of IKEA life-at-home expertise with the latest developments in spatial computing, machine learning and 3D mixed reality to democratize home design and deliver a truly personal experience.

More personalization requires greater digital trust. Data and technology must be used as a force for good and in a responsible and sustainable way for people and our planet, in order to create better everyday lives.

Our founder once said: ‘What is good for our customers is also, in the long run, good for us’, and these words continue to be a driving force

—Parag Parekh, IKEA Retail (Ingka Group)

‘Digital must power the energy transition’

Digitalization must play a vital role in helping to thrive through the energy transition. Decarbonization of the energy industry is not possible without a comprehensive digital transformation. Digital technology provides mechanisms and toolsets for optimizing energy efficiency and making it possible to design and operate entirely new and low carbon footprint energy systems at scale.

Business leaders should prioritize open innovation and collaboration with partners who can contribute technical capability, knowledge and resources. Shell focuses on working with a range of partners from academia, customers, suppliers, start-ups and open communities to pursue larger objectives together.

Shell’s 2023+ roadmap focuses on digital technology that help us reduce the footprint of our operations, offer low carbon energy to customers, and design the energy system of the future.

Decarbonization of the energy industry is not possible without a comprehensive digital transformation

—Jay Crotts, Shell

‘Think and act differently with digital’

Digital solutions are driving outcomes that were not possible a decade ago. In the energy industry, digitalization can enable faster delivery decisions, improve asset performance and provide visibility to communities. To unlock the full potential that digital offers, we must think and act differently.

When data and digital teams are part of the project leadership, they can help connect assets, ensure project information can be shared on common platforms, and overall improve the efficiency and speed of the project delivery. With a focus on the right investments of both dollars and time with the right partners, it will advance the transformation.

Worley dives into the heart of the digital challenge by taking a strategy-first and integrated approach to delivering value. The shift is complex but critical on our journey to a more sustainable world.

When data and digital teams are part of project leadership, they help connect assets, ensure information can be shared on common platforms, and improve the efficiency and speed of the delivery

—Geeta Thakorlal, Worley


‘Digital age of personalization and sustainability’

In the digital age, consumers expect personalization, inclusivity and relevance. L’Oreal is shifting from products to services, using predictive sciences and technology to help consumers to make perfect choices, and to curate and coach them with their beauty routines and care.

L’Oreal is pioneering beauty tech to create a new type of relationship with its consumers powered by data, technology and artificial intelligence. As we enter a new chapter in the web, the consumer journey is also evolving to more immersive experiences using technologies like augmented reality, virtual reality and 3D creation, cracking new codes of beauty in the metaverse and Web3 world.

It is important to embed sustainability at the core of this shift. The combination of technology, green sciences and commitment to planetary boundaries will allow L’Oreal to make better and more sustainable products, best capable of addressing the beauty needs of the future.

We are shifting from products to services, using predictive sciences and technology to help consumers to make perfect choices

—Asmita Dubey, L’Oreal

‘Decentralize control of data’

Albert Chu, Sompo Holdings

Data-driven insights and technology innovations can help address the societal issues exacerbated by our increasingly volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous (VUCA) world. In Japan and elsewhere, there are growing social issues, such as climate change, natural disasters, supply chain disruptions, pandemics, and an ageing society.

Data collected in every aspect of our society is increasing exponentially. In 2023, we need technology leadership to clarify data ownership and privacy, decentralize the control of data, and make data governance more transparent. We must ensure that data is not controlled by a few centralized companies, without being channelled towards addressing social issues.

For example, Sompo’s Nursing Care Real Data Platform solution in Japan uses data from its nursing care facilities, residents and caregivers to improve quality of care and operational efficiency by over 20%. With decentralized data control and appropriate governance and privacy policies, such solutions can be scaled globally to other ageing societies.

We must ensure that data is not controlled by a few centralized companies, without being channelled towards addressing social issues

—Albert Chu, Sompo Holdings

‘Unlocking vehicle data potential’

Bernd Schmaul, Bosch Mobility Solutions

Today, many drivers expect their vehicles to be fully integrated into their digital lives. New connectivity, automation, and personalization features will be increasingly implemented in vehicles with software in the future. While in the past a customer’s experience of a car was primarily defined by hardware, software is now taking on a much more important role.

Data, as well as its availability and potential, will be an integral factor in transforming the automotive industry, such as through Bosch’s data-driven intelligence solution. This evolution not only affects development and operation, but also makes new business models and types of collaboration possible. Working and agreeing on standards for data exchange will pave the way for efficient use. Cooperation between suppliers, vehicle manufactures, and partners within the automotive industry and beyond become more important than ever. By sharing data throughout the wider ecosystem, industry leaders can realize new efficiencies, services and solutions.

While in the past a customer’s experience of a car was primarily defined by hardware, software is now taking on a much more important role.

— Bernd Schmaul, Bosch Mobility Solutions

The World Economic Forum’s Platform for Shaping the Future of Energy, Materials and Infrastructure works across six industries: electricity, oil and gas, mining and metals, chemicals and advanced materials, engineering and construction, and advanced energy solutions. It enables government and business to work together to accelerate the transformation of energy, materials and infrastructure systems.

Contact us for more information on how to get involved.