We Have Entered the Exponential Age. What Does That Mean for Your Company’s Future?

Organizational leaders and teams are doing everything in their power, both personally and professionally, to keep business moving forward during one of the most challenging periods in history. Well aware of the myriad problems the pandemic triggered, they are tapping into all the linear thinking they learned in business school to tackle new and seemingly endless problems.

But linear thinking no longer applies in a world that is changing at an exponential rate, says futurist Azeem Azhar, an award-winning technology writer, investor, corporate advisor and creator of the increasingly popular “Exponential View” podcast and newsletter.

Since 2015, Azhar has been researching, interpreting and discussing how emerging technologies will dramatically change every aspect of our lives. His acclaimed 2021 book, “The Exponential Age: How Accelerating Technology is Transforming Business, Politics and Society,” lays out a framework for thinking about the future that business and government leaders have no choice but to embrace as they plan forward.

 

“We’re in the midst of a rapid and radical societal shift, driven by a series of exponential technologies that are transforming how we live and interact with each other and the world around us. They are not just happening, they are taking off at the same time, launching us into a whole new world,” Azhar explains. “As artificial intelligence, synthetic biology, renewable energy, and other innovations in technology and science mature, they will challenge the economic and social fabric of business and society in chaotic ways, including how we work and learn. My work is focused on helping companies, governments and individuals understand and prepare for the future, leverage the best of what’s coming, and maintain their footing along the way.”

Azhar is particularly focused on how technology can address the climate crisis. Among other efforts, he initiated and co-authored a series of research reports with PwC called the State of Climate Tech. His Exponential View charts keep the world up to date on the status of decarbonization and other key trends, and he regularly discusses solutions with global experts during his podcast, mostly notably his “Tracking Climate Progress” post and his podcast episode about carbon removal offsets.

 

One of a handful of people who has been involved in emerging technology since the early 1990s as a founder, investor, corporate executive and regulator, Azhar’s eclectic experiences offer him a 360-degree perspective on what we can expect in the coming decades. His approach to analyzing and explaining key trends is uniquely interdisciplinary, drawing on his training in economics and political science as well as his professional track record as a technologist. Both an analyst and a practitioner, he remains an active investor in early-stage technology companies, some of which have been acquired by such firms as Amazon and Microsoft.

“The Exponential Age” was named the best book of 2021 by the Financial Times, London Times, MIT Technology Review and Harvard Business Review. Azhar’s related weekly newsletter has more than 200,000 subscribers, and his chart-topping Exponential View podcast, which covers a range of topics, has featured such globally recognized visionaries as Yuval Noah Harari, Reid Hoffman and Demis Hassabis. Always ahead of the trends, Azhar’s January 2022 episode on Web 3.0, Sci-Fi Tech and the Metaverse was prescient and timely.

 

A sought-after advisor and an in-demand keynote speaker who is a particularly welcome addition at technology and equities conferences, Azhar continues to help leaders in every sector – from advertising, banking, engineering and professional services, to insurance, transportation, health care and consumer goods – understand the lifecycle of technologies that are driving or will drive their business.

“Decision makers need to understand the muscle they’ll need to exercise as they journey toward the future. There’s no magic pill,” says Azhar. “My core value is helping leaders see the big picture of what emerging technologies will do for their company over the next five to ten years. The old rule books and business books don’t necessarily apply. In the old days there were set formulas. Not anymore. The key principles now are experimentation, learning, forgiveness and self-restraint.”

Praise for “The Exponential Age”

“Using countless stories and insightful analysis, Azeem Azhar guides us from the industrial assumptions we grew up with to the exponential realities that define our future.”  Tom Wheeler, Brookings Institution, author of “From Gutenberg to Google”

“You will be exponentially smarter after having read Azeem Azhar’s book.”  Laure Claire Reillier, COO and Co-Founder Launchworks & Co, Co-Author “Platform Strategy”

“Azeem Azhar is that rare thing: a thought-leader who has also been a tech founder. The combination of big-picture vision and real tech experience shines through in this unmissable book.”  Stian Westlake, Chief Executive, Royal Statistical Society

“Azeem Azhar is one of the best-regarded thought leaders in the industry. But more importantly, he has a broad understanding of the exponential ways technology can be used to solve our biggest problems, shape our society, and bridge cultural divides.” Daniel Ek, Founder and CEO of Spotify 

“A much-needed manual for unlocking opportunities and overcoming vertigo in a world that seems to be spinning out of control. Azeem Azhar, a genius networker, proves to be a brilliant guide to our intensely networked age.” Kevin Werbach, Professor, Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania

“While many talk about the rate of innovation, too few talk about its direction. Azeem’s new book helps bring that directionality to the surface through a dynamic understanding of the connections between economic, social and technological forces. Read this book if you are interested in how we can design a more inclusive and sustainable system with a redirection of technological change at its center.”  Mariana Mazzucato, Professor at University College London, and author of “Mission Economy”

Whitney Jennings: