CogX 2021: Speaker after speaker, talk after talk, the subject matters may have varied but it all came down to one final question: How do we get the next 10 years right?

That was the burning question at CogX Festival 2021 in London, three full days of conversation centred around building a better and more inclusive future for all of humanity. This year’s event was a hybrid, pulling the global community together not just virtually but also physically for those who could make it. We were pleased to have been amongst the few that could be there in person, even if it meant maintaining the social distance we’ve now become accustomed to.

The agenda looked to the future. A discussion on how we start to navigate our way forward, not exclusively focused on the pandemic, but on the challenges we knew we were facing pre-Covid, which over the last twelve months have fallen wayward for most businesses.

Whether it’s creating next-gen innovations, fighting for equality or tackling the climate crisis, some industries have had to radically change direction in 2020. CogX created an opportunity for all to stop, listen, consider lessons learnt and begin prioritising the strategies required to enable the economy and society to grow at a sustainable pace.

It would be impossible to encompass days of online and offline talks on 18 topics, from over 1000 speakers into one post, so instead we’ve decided to share our top 3 highlights:

The Climate Crisis is still a crisis

It was clear from the entire festival, across the stages, that sustainability and the crisis faced by our planet continues to be a topic that rightfully demands attention – not just to us as individuals, but more importantly by decision makers within companies. We all understand the challenge, but now is the time to build and start implementing real actions. And it’s clear that technology will play a key role in discovering the many solutions we need as we race ahead to NetZero.

“Over the next couple of decades, we’re going to change the way the world works. That hasn’t happened since the beginning of the industrial revolution.” Warren East, CEO, Rolls Royce

Rolls Royce CEO, Warren East, shared insights into the energy transition for automotive, sentiments that were mirrored by CEO of British Airways, Sean Doyle. Both shared realistic expectations and insights into how they expect the industry to change, a sentiment echoed by many other speakers. Whilst we may be expecting a dramatic revolution, the reality, it seems, lies in tackling one problem at a time, and using innovation and collaboration to produce an effective solution.

The transport execs at CogX were not the only ones to address the important role digital technologies will play in helping us to unlock how we reduce emissions, increase efficiencies and lower our carbon footprint. Getting to carbon neutral is effectively the short term goal, maintaining that position is where our new challenge lies.

Technology has divided us

There is absolutely no question that technology saved the economy when the pandemic forced us all to drastically change how we work.

“It’s amazing how technology can bring us together, even when our physical bodies fail” Dame Vivian Hunt, Senior Partner, McKinsey & Company

But alongside the success stories of Zoom meetings and social media engagement growth, one thing that became clear as the pandemic began to take effect, was the ever-increasing digital divide that currently exists within societies. How do we continue to grow as an industry and not leave people behind?

Slowly but surely, technology will begin to encroach into all aspects of our life and we need to maintain the passion that some parts of society feel purely for real life activities and translate that experience into a digital one. A trait that many have worked hard to perfect over the last 12 months, this event being an example of that.

“Yes, digital has enabled, but we’re still very much of course in the hands of those that are physically present.” Margarite Vestager, Commissioner for Competition & EVP A Europe Fit for the Digital Age, European Commission

Regardless of what industry you align with, closing the gap of the societal digital divide is a responsibility we all need to address. For us at Indiespring, we know how much of an impact building a robust and user-driven mobile application can have on bringing individuals closer to what they love, on a platform they can navigate quite easily.

There is no technology without humans

Although many innovations are designed as part of a solution to a problem, that doesn’t necessarily mean human understanding or engagement has been taken into account.

As the speed of technology advancement grows, we need to ensure global understanding and awareness grows with it. The tech will keep going, the rate is ever increasing and the opportunity is endless. CogX speakers discussed the societal trends we can expect over the next 10 years and that these opportunities will either be used to help us get better, or contribute to making things worse.

Artificial intelligence is a great example. There are ethical arguments that have arisen around the use of AI and its implications with user privacy and security, yet when stripped back to the root of the technology, many have forgotten that humans are integral to AI development. The same can be said for our understanding and use of data. Senior Editor of The Economist, Kenneth Cukier spoke passionately on how data can be aggregated to solve a wide range of problems from industrial inefficiencies to tackling global pandemics and health care.

“Hidden in plain sight is the fact that you need the human to accomplish this, the AI wasn’t going to do that, in the same way that the coffee beans don’t grind themselves” Kenneth Cukier, Senior Editor, The Economist

The key factor that is often misinterpreted is our analysis, are we actually analysing the data for the greater good? Or are we simply using the information for unethical gains? Humans are the integral pieces that create the distinction between the two.

Whatever you build or intend to use technology for, encouraging a human centric design and process will enhance your digital experiences and potentially be the key to your success.


Over the next few weeks, we’ll share further insights from our time at CogX and how looking ahead to the next 10 years should influence your mobile and web application strategies right now.

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