Technology shapes our world. It’s there from the moment we wake in the morning until we fall asleep at night. And our digital lives are evolving at a breathtaking pace. 

This offers businesses real opportunities to help make the world a better place. From improving equality to building new institutions fit for a digital future, the potential of technology is ever-expanding. 

Companies can meet these challenges by building ecosystems of innovative partners and reimagining themselves for the next phase of digitalization. What this looks like in practice was discussed at a series of events hosted by Tata Consultancy Services during the 2020 World Economic Forum Annual Meeting in Davos.

Here are five takeaways from technology leaders who attended.

1. Technology is the key to tackling inequality

Making sure everyone has access to the best healthcare and education is fundamental to creating a fairer society. And digital technology will be central in opening up opportunities to all.

Hans Vestberg, CEO of communications technology provider Verizon, says that the power of 5G in particular, in combination with artificial intelligence (AI) and the Internet of Things, is essential to achieving these goals.

Businesses must also ensure people and machines work together. Tata Sons Chairman N. Chandrasekaran, who launched his book Bridgital Nation at Davos, believes that AI is full of capabilities, but that these can only be realized through the work of humans, who build the business models and implement the solutions.

2. We need to build digital trust 

Trust is a prerequisite to the take-up of technology in the daily lives of ordinary people across the globe, says Ajay Bhalla, President of Cyber and Intelligence Solutions at Mastercard. 

Although innovations like AI are making our lives richer, people must trust technology to reap the full benefits of digitalization. Without this, he says, business and society cannot prosper – so businesses must work together to build a secure ecosystem that works for everyone.

3. Creating innovation ecosystems will be critical

Companies can’t expect to generate all the good ideas to make this change happen by themselves, says Vanessa Colella, CIO at global banking group Citi. 

Instead they need to work with outside organizations to create an “innovation ecosystem”.

4. Companies must reimagine their futures with technology

Bas Burger, CEO of BT Global, says technology like AI gives businesses the chance to go beyond borders to imagine new products and ways of working. But technology firms need to work together to ensure digital innovations can be used for good in a secure environment. And we need to get security hygiene factors right.

Without security, Burger explains, there is a danger people will turn away from digital technologies, meaning their potential will not be achieved.

5. We need new institutions to take advantage of digital transformation

Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft, reflects on the company’s mission and purpose in 2020.