Our list of top leaders transforming tech shows how transparency and productivity are more important than ever
- Tech companies that proactively reacted to consumer and enterprise demands came out ahead this year.
- They did so via leaders with the foresight to understand consumer and enterprise spending habits.
In a year marked by change, the tech companies with the foresight to proactively react to consumer and enterprise demands came out ahead. The emerging technology leaders featured on Insider's annual "100 People Transforming Business" list have stepped up to do just that.
The global economy spent the first months of the year rebounding from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic — right before markets started to brace for a recession.
That's led to layoffs across the tech sector, even as consumers and advertisers alike show signs of cutting spending. At the same time, it's proved to be a year rife with opportunities for those who can help their customers ride the wave and be productive without distractions.
It's a tough situation to manage. But these leaders have pulled through with the help of customer data, feedback from users, and maybe just a bit of luck.
Workers want tools to make their jobs easier
In 2020 and 2021, tools for remote work dominated the workplace. That shifted more firmly to a hybrid model as workers returned to the office, at least part time. That takes us to 2022, when businesses have relied heavily on productivity and work-management tools to keep everything from anywhere organized.
The productivity tool Notion went viral this year, as it offers a way for both businesses and individual consumers to organize their lives. By using planning and collaboration tools internally, Notion has learned how to scale to support a massive influx of users, its chief operating officer, Akshay Kothari, said.
At the same time, the online-whiteboard platform Miro has risen to prominence. Virtual-whiteboard platforms are seen as an essential workplace tool that some predict are set to stay a popular tool in business tech.
"It's been a balance between following a proven playbook for managing hypergrowth and also trying to figure things out as we go," Andrey Khusid, the CEO and founder of Miro, told Insider.
Beyond the world of software, companies are trying to ride the bleeding edge by installing smart sensors and other internet-connected devices to track metrics like office attendance. Chris LaPré, the head of technology at the Connectivity Standards Alliance, is leading the charge to create industrywide standards for the so-called Internet of Things, promoting a protocol called Matter that promises to unite Apple, Amazon, Google, and other manufacturers of IoT devices under one set of guidelines.
Tech transparency becomes a talking point across platforms
At home, this year showed that tech consumers wanted more transparency. And the transformers on Insider's list are spearheading ways to improve that.
That's clear with BeReal CEO Alexis Barreyat's approach to social media. The platform focuses on getting users to share what they're seeing at a given moment with friends. It's a direct opposition to the edited look into people's lives on other platforms, which have recently faced increased criticism.
Elsewhere, YouTube's head of business, Mary Ellen Coe, is tasked with being on the cutting edge of what keeps end users and creators engaged. The site is testing products to compete with the short-form-video platform TikTok.
As these platforms grow their influence, however, the risk of misinformation grows with them. That's why companies like Google and Adobe have been stepping up their efforts to fight it, especially in the run-up to the US midterm elections on Tuesday.
"If something can be faked, then everything can be questioned," Andy Parsons, the senior director of the Content Authenticity Initiative at Adobe, said. "We have to not detect what's fake, but we need to prove what's true."
And under its vice president of trust and safety, Laurie Richardson, Google has boosted its efforts to make election information more accessible.
That transparency extends to the workers behind the tech. In response to economic uncertainty and other business challenges, labor organizers like Jessica Gonzalez at CODE-CWA are working to bring unionization to more tech firms.
"I was in a space where I was like, 'Oh, my gosh, I have almost 10 years in this industry, and it's the same,'" Gonzalez told Insider. "I was really tired. And so I was like, 'OK, I'm going to be someone who helps the movement.'"
Founders and investors solving real problems rule the startup world
In the startup world, wearable technology is having a moment. But venture capitalists are focusing on investing in firms with founders they believe in.
"Having been an immigrant twice now," Adeyemi Ajao, a cofounder and managing partner at Base10 Partners, told Insider, "it's always given me a lot of empathy for people who feel like the 'other.' It has been helpful for me as an investor and as an entrepreneur."
When it comes to products taking off, Insider selected transformers that developed products this year that are close to problems they experienced firsthand.
Take, for example, Aly Orady, the CEO and founder at Tonal, which builds a smart home gym. It's a new approach to working out at home that stemmed from the founder's own troubles getting to the gym, according to Orady.
And GraphWear Technologies' cofounder and CEO, Rajatesh Gudibande, also made the list for his commitment to accessible health devices.
"I saw that the logistics of healthcare were clunky, and so I set out to make a change," Gudibande told Authority Magazine last year.
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