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Leveraging Data to Hedge Geopolitical Risk

Strategic Dialogue

Media Partner: Foreign Press Correspondents



    • When asked about how data analysis is approached in those countries with weak data infrastructures, Aubrey Hruby explained that one of the greatest challenges facing investors is a lack of data. This stymies certain companies from developed economies that are used to making data-intensive decisions, because it changes how they have to navigate in emerging regions. For those countries with weak data infrastructures in place, data exists in a way that is not easily accessible to everyone, therefore requiring a more creative, multi-step, and expensive process. As highlighted by Hruby, we’re currently seeing a shift towards gathering city-level data as opposed to national-level data. When asked about risk perception around investing in African markets, Hruby outlined the following three major barriers to investment in the region: lack of data; lack of network; and, lack of visibility. She went on to stress the importance of finding tools and technology to mitigate some of these unknown areas. 
  • “One of the greatest challenges investors have in looking at opportunities in African markets is the lack of data, in a way that they are used to receiving or processing,” Aubrey Hruby 

    • Courtney Rickert McCaffrey discussed EY’s approach to using data to drive decisions for clients, particularly the combination of quantitative data and qualitative insights, and the importance of translating insights into tangible action relating to supply chains and human resources. At the end of 2019, around 73% of companies that were surveyed in regards to data and political risk stated that they used data to help make business decisions. 
    • According to Steve Bennett, artificial intelligence holds promise for governments, and the challenges that arise from implementing artificial intelligence technologies across government entities are mostly cultural. As governments mature and understand the benefits of artificial intelligence, widespread reluctance will abate. 
    • Justin Spelhaug spoke to the information gap that exists between the public and private sectors, citing the fact that funding sources lead investors to underestimate the market value of particular solutions and overestimate risk, driving inaction. Artificial intelligence can be used to address this information gap by matching innovators with problems. Technology is needed to help accelerate progress in this space by 2030. Spelhaug also stated that with increased use of data and artificial intelligence, there is more emphasis on using personal data in an ethical way, with the technology industry establishing six core principles: fairness; reliability & safety; inclusiveness; transparency; privacy & security; and, accountability. 
  • “Across almost every indicator of the SDGs, we’re falling backwards right now because of the inequities created by COVID-19,” Justin Spelhaug 

    • Neil Brown discussed the role that data plays in the process of investing in new markets and the broader framework of energy and geopolitics. Brown stressed the importance of using both data and judgement to understand risk and convert that risk into investment opportunities.
    • Thanos Dimadis concluded by asking the panelists how COVID-19 has affected the day-to-day aspects of decision making. For Bennett, an incident command system was set up to quickly change and reorient how SAS got data into the right hands and put it to work for people. For Spelhaug, Microsoft quickly ushered people onto Microsoft Teams to support remote, virtual work, as well as launching an artificial intelligence health initiative focused on using data to help organizations allocate resources where needed most. For Rickert McCaffrey, COVID-19 is seen as a political risk on a global scale due to the policy-related challenges being faced by companies.

Key takeaways & next steps:

  • We have to ensure that we have the right international standards and regulatory frameworks for the ethics by which we use data and artificial intelligence.
  • As trends continue to accelerate and we become more digitized, some of the biggest constraints and barriers to investing in emerging markets are being removed.


Session Speakers