Business and ICT leaders have to embrace the perpetual volatility, uncertainty and complexity thrown up by the new normal caused by Covid-19, says futurist Gerd Leonhard. 

No industry has been left unscathed by the pandemic. Its impact is greater than all previous crises including the global financial crisis of 2007 and the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster of 2011, he points out. 

The only certainty is that there will be change and that technology is the central driver for all industries.   

At the ConnectGov V summit on Nov 11, we heard his urgings that a future mindset is needed to tackle the uncertainties and ambiguity pushed up by Covid-19. People will live in a hybrid world, he says, where the virtual environment becomes part of the real world. Home learning, remote working, telemedicine and other similar activities will accelerate. 

Don’t talk about what tech cannot do today because in 10 years, tech will be able to do everything, he says. 

The mindboggling change is the only certainty in the future. And it is occurring at warp drive, a la Star Trek spaceship travelling at speeds greater than that of light. 

So business and ICT leaders have to re-set and shuffle their priorities. They have to be prepared for the end of analog and the fossil economy. The first is hastened by the technological disruption happening in every industry while new thinking is emerging in sustainable capitalism and circular economy which will led to the end the fossil economy. The latter has given a louder voice to climate change considerations and the circular economy where there is a continual use of resources and waste is eliminated. 

Cash may disappear altogether as contactless payment gains traction. The global economy will undergo a K shape recovery where certain sectors will see growth faster than others. Sustainable capitalism will gain stronger support as societies and nations go beyond GDP to measure economic growth, he predicts, and adds that growth will be more about well-being of people and the planet. 

We know in Singapore that discussions on sustainability and climate change have increased which is a good start. But Leonhard highlights that this thinking is the default and everyone must think larger than before if society is to emerge stronger. 

To manage the coronavirus roller-coaster, a future mindset is needed, one where leaders require foresight, practical wisdom, resilience and integrity. 

Leonhard is a friend to ConnectGov. He was our first speaker five years ago when we started the ConnectGov summits in Bhutan. His forecasts have always been illuminating. The future landscape he paints this week sounds scary. Standing still will not help. Like our futurist friend says, to get off the corona roller-coaster, recognise that technology is the central driver and people will have to act together and stick together with compassion and solidarity.