Top 10 technology leaders, influencers and visionaries

New Update
artificial intelligence

Leaders, innovators and visionaries have always been at the heart of the technology sector. Their choices, actions and investments influence the direction and pace of the industry. This report by Juniper Research presents the ten individuals that the research firm believes will have the greatest impact on the sector over the next 12 months, discussing how they influence both their respective organizations and the wider tech sector.


Juniper Research has selected and ranked these innovators according to eight key criteria, namely, Innovation, Scalability, Reach, Business Model, Personal Capital, Outside Impact, End-user Impact and Vision.

#1 Satya Nadella, CEO, Microsoft

Satya Nadella

With the launch of Windows 10, Microsoft will become a platform-centric company, focusing on transferable OS experiences across devices.

These are complemented by the Continuum technology that allows projection of the Windows 10 Mobile OS from a smartphone to another device to create a flexible platform. Nadella’s background in the cloud and enterprise space means that his vision of Windows 10 and the new services it offers, is likely to be very cloud-centric one.

Thanks to the advent of universal apps, cloud-based app management is very likely to be on Microsoft’s future agenda, for both business and consumer users. Nadella has articulated a vision of ‘Windows-as-a-Service’ to meet users’ needs where they are. In practical terms, he intends Windows services to be platform neutral.  There have been hints of these service-first or service-only offerings with Microsoft signing deals with Samsung and Cyanogen to integrate its software into a range of mobile devices offered by other vendors. This is a fundamental change to Microsoft’s business model. Instead of centring its offerings on the OS, Nadella’s Windows-as-a-Service will result in a very different process of development at Microsoft in future.



# 2 Jony Ive, Chief Design Officer, Apple

Jony Ive

Ive is responsible for the features of the Apple Watch that are now being emulated by many different smartwatch designers.  These include the doodle functionality, NFC and Wi-Fi capabilities, all introduced into Android Wear shortly after the Watch’s launch. Similar hardware features, such as the digital crown and haptic feedback, are likely to be integrated in other watches over time.

The hype and sector awareness that the Apple Watch has generated means that Ive’sdesigns will be the benchmark for the category in future. Consumer expectations will now compare features to the Apple Watch, even for non-iOS users.  The guidelines for Apple Watch app development imply a very distinct vision from Iveand others about how a smartwatch should be used, more completely than the competition has articulated at present.

#3 Min-Liang Tan, Co-Founder & CEO, Razer


As well as serving as CEO, Tan is also the creative director of Razer, giving him a large amount of control over the company’s direction. Tan is a founding member of the OSVR (Open Source Virtual Reality) Alliance,This started as a Razerproject but announced it had 50 partners at the Games Developer Conference in March this year, which has since expanded to 56 hardware partners and 35 universities.

The inclusion of Vuzixand other sensory companies in the OSVR highlights the blurring lines between VR and AR.The OSVR could be in a position to influence both, with the right sensor technology integration. The OSVRplatform allows Razerto showcase its software for use on third-party hardware, creating a common standard for VR programs to be designed.


#4 Travis Kalanick,  CEO, Uber

Travis Kalanick Uber

Uber is the world’s most successful on-demand taxi service, providing certified drivers when the app is used, rather than checking for cars in the vicinity like Lyft. Uber has been noted as undercutting the rates of taxi companies, through engaging in contractual relationships rather than employee-employer relationships. Kalanick’stenacity in the face of fire has been critical to furthering the company’s progress.


As the challenges to Uber’s business model continues, Kalanick’svocal defence of his company will be vital in ensuring that Uber is not quashed by unsettled firms or unfriendly legislation. Uber has announced it is funding university research at Pittsburgh to develop self-driving cars, which would ultimately put it in direct competition with Google ’s self-driving car initiative. The initiative to get into self-driving cars has been Kalanick’s, as he believes self-driving cars are the future. He knows this will end Uber’s current business model, but is not worried as he considers that ‘riverlesscar is a multi-decade transition.’

#5  Reed Hastings, Co-Founder & CEO, Netflix

Reed Hastings Netflix

Netflix has become the most popular streamed video service in the world, with more than 62 million subscribers

It accounts for more than 30% of aggregated upstream/downstream US traffic in 2014.  As Netflix’s founder and CEO, Hastings has played a pivotal role in the company’s ongoing disruption of the linear TV model. The company has moved into the production of original content, creating popular programmes such as House of Cards, Orange is The New Blackand Daredevil.

Hastings has said that more than 320 hours of original content will be delivered this year, 3 times more than 2014, thereby becoming an increasing threat to traditional pay TV services such as HBO. Hastings has also supervised Netflix’s ongoing forays into the international arena. In September 2014, the company expanded into an additional 6 European markets. Netflix launched in Australia and New Zealand earlier this year, and is poised to enter the potentially lucrative Japanese market.

#6 Jack Ma, Founder & Chairman, Alibaba

Jack Ma Alibaba

Alibaba is one of the world’s most successful eCommerce businesses, expected by some to soon be the world’s largest retailer. The company has expressed an interest in wishing to develop its own mobile OS to compete with the likes of Android and promote its services, in a similar way to Amazon and the Fire Phone. Using hardware to monetise software is likely to gain more traction in Asia than elsewhere, as Xiaomi has shown. Any moves made by Alibaba are also likely to be magnified by its existing presence in the Chinese eCommercemarket.

Having previously stated that he was dissatisfied with the company’s penetration of the mobile Internet, Ma drove the mobile-first imperative into Alibaba’s growth strategy. To further this, Alibaba recently invested $590 million in Meizu, a Chinese smartphone company. This gives Alibaba a potential window into the smartphone market as a whole, and a potential receiver for their services and promote Alibaba’s YunOS. Having previously failed to introduce YunOS, the company is now in a position to insist on at least some YunOS phones.

#7 Paul Eremenko, ATAP Director, Google

Paul Eremenko Google

Having originally worked for DARPA, Eremenkohas brought Google’s module Project Arasmartphone from concept to pilot stage, following DARPA’s production ethos. The aim of Project Arais to create a fully customisable smartphone, with components that can be swapped in and out of the phone’s core (known as the endo) at will.

The ultimate aim is to create an app-like ecosystem for hardware, changing the upgrade cycle of phones in favour of swapping individual components. If the Puerto Rican pilot is successful, the product should launch in 2016.

Eremenko has previously encouraged the use of 3D-printed components to complement the customizable element to Project Ara, but 3D-printed elements have been pulled from the pilot launch at present. Part of the reason for this is to keep costs down. Project Ara’s current marketing angle is aimed at those who don’t have smartphones. The offering therefore needs to compete primarily with the budget end of the market. While modular phones are a fresh innovation, there are already competitors in the space. Start-up Fonkraft has showcased a similarly modular phone, but is unlikely to be an immediate competitor following problems with Indiegogo.

#8 Jeff Bezos, Founder & CEO, Amazon 

Jeff Bezos Amazon

Since the company’s inception, Bezos has been the driving force behind Amazon’’sdiversification, seeking to create product offerings across adjacent connected industries. Amazon’s business was initially built on eCommerce, before the launch of Amazon Web Services. Amazon’s transition from pure eRetailer to eContent aggregator was most noticeably shown by its acquisition of the DVD, and latterly cloud-based, video rental service, LOVEFiLM, in 2011.

Bezos has consistently pursued a growth over profits strategy. His latest initiatives include TV set-top boxes, original TV content, smartphones and unlimited eBook access. The company is also seeking to acquire an eRetailmarket share in China, taking on Alibaba in its home market. While the Amazon Fire Phone failed to spark interest, its other nascent ventures are expected to show strong growth, consolidating Amazon’s primacy across a range of sectors.

#9 Elon Musk, Chairman & CEO, Tesla

Elon Musk

Moving away from electric cars, Tesla announced the Power pack and Power wall batteries for storage of electricity in buildings in April 2015. Power pack and Power wall offer some of the first power solutions to store surplus power generation from solar panels for later use at the individual home level. The discussion around these products have been underscored by Musk’s vision of bringing affordable electricity products to consumers, with affordability a cornerstone of the products’ appeal. However, they are currently not economical for home use by many people, with the smaller units costing $3,500. Musk has hinted that the costs may come down as the company opens a ‘gigafactory’ in Nevada to ramp up their production.

The real benefits of this technology will be felt when economies of scale and competition force prices down further, bringing the technology within easy reach of consumers. The batteries could see wide usage by utilities companies, who currently rely on peaking plants to deal with surplus electricity demand. This could fundamentally change the way that power plants are managed and lead to the development of small-scale smart grids.

#10  Lei Jun,  CEO, Xiaomi

Lei Jun Xiaomi

Xiaomi’s rise to prominence has been on the platform of affordable quality; Lei has designed phones at the premium end of the Chinese smartphone market, while keeping margins low. Much of Xiaomi’s profit is derived from software and services, particularly its MIUI platform, which draws on Lei’s background in social media to produce a vibrant user community.

This is not likely to translate well into contract-driven markets (like the US and much of Europe), as consumers regularly replace their phones, meaning any software-based revenue cannot be guaranteed beyond the 1 or 2 year contract. In addition, engaging with brands through social media is not common practice in these markets.

Outside China, and for special occasions, the company offers flash sales of its devices, relying on the hype provided in social media to promote them, rather than paid-for advertising. Xiaomi also has a growing range of other products, from a fitness wearable to a tablet and smart TVs. These follow the same online-only strategy as the phones in distribution.

While Xiaomi’s expansion in the phone market may remain checked by limited profits, these devices which rely on hardware revenue have no such restrictions. This means that Xiaomi will be a more immediate hit in non-phone consumer electronics overseas in the years to come.

google elon-musk alibaba amazon uber xiaomi jack-ma juniper-research jeff-bezos satya-nadella top-ten-tech-visionaries jonathan-ive travis-kalanick razer min-liang-tan paul-eremenko tesla lei-jun top-10-technology-leaders