5 tech skills every business leader needs


It’s that time of year again, when we gaze into our crystal balls, gesticulate mysteriously and try to predict emerging tech trends. Most of the time these lists are a guestimate at best – who could have forecast in November 2022 that generative AI would completely upend the tech landscape this year? – but they’re still a valuable exercise. It you’re looking to step up to a leadership role in 2024, or round out your management skillset, you’re going to need a mix of hard, soft and technical skills. This includes being comfortable with data-driven decision making, knowing how to leverage AI and machine learning, and keeping on top of the latest when it comes to cybersecurity risks.

Here’s our take on the essential tech skills for business leaders in 2024.

Data Analysis

Data-driven decision-making is the new business catch cry, and it’s no longer the purview of IT or your insights team. Good data is everyone’s business, and these days managers are expected to be more-or-less fluent in data science and analytics. That’s because these two things shape strategic decision-making at the highest level. To plan effectively, you need more than hunches; you need good data, and the ability to read and understand what it means.

There’s a good summary of this trend on Medium: “As the demand for data-driven decision-making continues to grow, leaders must possess a unique blend of technical acumen, strategic vision and the ability to inspire and guide diverse teams.”


 According to IBM, the global average cost of a data breach is now $4.5 million – and who do you think takes the fall for those costly mistakes? That’s right, business leaders.

With over 422 million victims of cyber breaches in 2022, it’s no wonder cybersecurity is still one of the biggest emerging tech trends. It’s now an expectation that business leaders are across the full gamut of cyber strategy, from post-quantum cryptography to ransomware and supply chain attacks. You don’t need to understand these concepts on the same level as your cyber team, obviously, but you need to be able to grasp their impact on the business. It’s all about strengthening your personal tech stack.

AI and Machine Learning

Is it a bubble, or the next Big Thing? In 2023, generative AI models like ChatGPT, along with competitors such as Amazon’s Q and Google’s Bard, completely overturned many of the things we thought we knew about computing. And human productivity in general. In fact, PwC estimates that AI could add up to $15.7 trillion to the global economy by 2030. As a business leader in 2024, you’ll need to be across the latest trends in AI and machine learning, even if studies suggest that most organizations are still AI-averse.

That doesn’t necessarily mean you need to rush out and learn Python – but you will need to be able to implement AI as part of your overall strategic direction, and spot opportunities for efficiency and improvement in the workforce.

Digital Transformation

“Leadership in digital transformation”. We hear it all the time now. But what does it actually mean? Put simply, digital transformation involves the digital conversion of assets or business practices, usually by moving things onto the cloud. It’s the catch-all term for future-proofing your organization, and it’s something business leaders need to master in 2024. Gartner is already forecasting worldwide IT spending to hit $5.1 trillion next year, up 8%. That’s a lot of productivity moving online.

On a personal leadership level, digital transformation usually involves a grab-bag of hard and soft skills, from good communication and innovation management to strategic vision. The first step? You need to reimagine your growth strategy as powered by technology. Remember, in 2024,all companies are tech companies.

Upskilling and training

There’s never been a more important time to have digital literacy in the workforce. And that goes for all employees. McKinsey has already made a point of this, noting that tech literacy is now a CEO and board-level issue. As a business leader in 2024, it’s your responsibility to make sure your staff are up-to-speed with the latest tech.

We’re already seeing the fruits of this trend, with a 15% increase in the number of organizations investing in upskilling and reskilling programs over the last few years. This is a win/win for everyone: employees are more valuable and productive, and companies with comprehensive training programs can become up to 17% more productive.

Leading in the digital world

As we mentioned before, picking emerging tech trends isn’t easy, but preparing for them is possible. As a leader, you need a well-rounded tech stack, a robust combination of hard and soft skills, and (most importantly) a commitment to lifelong learning. The bad leaders are the ones that think they have all the answers; the good ones acknowledge that things are going to change, often quickly, and the best way to prepare is to foster a culture of continuous improvement and innovation. In other words, lean into the change. Embrace it. That’s going to be the real leadership secret sauce for 2024.