ITL #509 The tech influencer landscape: an increasing focus on solving society’s biggest challenges8 months ago
Trends include growth in Cybersecurity influencers driven by the rise of cybercrime, cyberwarfare and a global geopolitical instability. By Borja Iglesias.
Technology alone cannot solve all of the world’s problems, but it has the potential to make a substantial impact in addressing a wide range of challenges and improving the lives of people in every part of the world. Technological progress has been at the heart of societal advancement, transforming the way we move around the world, the way we communicate globally, the way we work.
One of the most pressing societal challenges of our time is climate change. The burning of fossil fuels and other human activities are releasing greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, leading to rising temperatures and more frequent extreme weather events. Technology has a powerful role to play in helping to mitigate the impacts of climate change through the implementation of clean energy solutions. This includes renewable energy sources wind and solar power, as well as energy efficiency measures like EVs and LED lighting.
Technology is also playing a key role in addressing other societal challenges such as health crises. For example, advances in HealthTech have made it possible to diagnose and treat diseases more effectively, and technology is being used to track and contain outbreaks of infectious diseases like covid-19.
The climate crisis and the covid-19 pandemic are two of the major global challenges we have faced as a society in recent decades. They are immense challenges, but there are countless organisations and innovators in the technology sector who are utilising technology to find solutions to these challenges.
I have great faith in the power of technology to transform the world. We all do at Tyto. Our agency was born with the firm idea of helping innovative companies achieve their goals through industry-leading public relations. With this purpose in mind, from our first year of existence we wanted to make sense of the technology sector in Europe through a data-driven report in which we compiled the list of the most influential people in the sector, the Tyto Tech 500. But the Tech 500 is not just a ranking of individuals setting the tech agenda, our research also highlights the key trends in the industry in the three largest economies in the region: the UK, Germany, and France. The sixth annual edition of the Tyto Tech 500 has just been released and the relevance and prominence of technology in tackling major societal issues is more visible than ever.
A society under threat from cyber attacks
Each year, the Tyto Tech 500 tells us not only who is most influential, but also what it means to be an influencer in that particular year. The value of this report is not only in identifying who is setting the pace for the tech sector, it shows how the landscape is evolving. The last two years' list was heavily influenced by the pandemic and its impact on a political and economic level. In 2021, we saw the influence of HealthTech and BioTech experts increase exponentially. The number of BioTech influencers in the pan-European Tech 500 increased by 69% versus 2020 and the number of HealthTech influencers grew by 35%. This year, while influencers in this technology field have a significant presence in the ranking, they have seen their influence decline.
In contrast, this year's edition revealed the growing role of cybersecurity in a context marked by the rise of cybercrime, cyberwarfare and a global geopolitical instability that has been heightened over the past months. In 2022, Cybersecurity had the largest absolute growth (27 influencers more than last year) and the second largest percentage growth (+52%). This category has gained influence in all countries: a huge 125% increase in the UK, followed by France (+24%) and Germany (+16%).
While some sectors are rising, others are falling. In addition to the decline in two sectors that had previously risen sharply in influence over the past two years, BioTech and HealthTech, there are other technology industries with a downward trend. These include EdTech and ConsumerTech, which together with General Tech (the category that includes all influencers that do not fit into one of the 17 other categories we analyse) have suffered the greatest loss of influence in the pan-European top 500. In 2022, the number of EdTech influencers in this ranking has dropped by 50% and ConsumerTech by 20%, closely related to a shift in societal priorities in the last twelve months. During the height of the pandemic, the population increased its use of tools that enabled remote education and online entertainment. With the return to normality, these sectors lost steam and the relevance of the most prominent personalities in these sectors declined.
SpaceTech and Quantum Tech rocket
2022 has also been a year marked by important breakthroughs in emerging sectors such as space technology and quantum technology; two fields that will have a major impact on society in the future but are already playing an increasingly important role in the present. Unsurprisingly, this has been reflected in our report: the two technology sectors with the largest percentage increase in the number of influencers in the pan-European top 500 are Quantum Technology (+267%) and SpaceTech (+200%). While these remain minority categories in the ranking, they have seen substantial growth compared to 2021.
Growing faith in technology innovators
The Tyto Tech 500 influencers are categorised based on two attributes: technology sector (18 sectors, from AI & Data Science to FinTech, via GreenTech and SpaceTech) and type of influencer (business leader, journalist, academic...). In addition to identifying the 500 most influential personalities in the technology sector in the UK, France and Germany, the report also highlights the top 500 at pan-European level (i.e., the 500 biggest influencers among all the countries analysed). This year, the role of technology innovators stands out among this selection of the most influential people. Entrepreneurs and venture capitalists have had the biggest growth with 146% and 88% respectively compared to last year. In a world that is changing at a dizzying pace, it makes sense that some of the people with the greatest impact on technological innovation and the main agents of change are gaining influence in the tech ecosystem.
What's in store for 2023?
Although it is difficult to predict what trends will shape 2023, the Tyto Tech 500 findings act as a good indicator of what is to come over the months ahead. In a year's time we will look back again and, I’m sure that whatever we find will be influenced by how the world will evolve over the next 12 months. For if one thing is clear, it is that technology has become a lens through which so many of society's biggest issues are playing out.
In the meantime, I invite you to download the report here. In addition to the topics I have highlighted above, you can find out more about other trends such as the growing relevance of women in tech, the valuable role of journalists in the sector and the increased significance of academic influencers in a year dominated by global uncertainty.
Borja Iglesias, Digital Strategy Lead at Tyto.mail the author
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