What companies need to survive the future - Yao Zhang

Companies need to get serious about becoming more data savvy, collecting and analyzing information to better position themselves to stay one step ahead, said
Yao Zhang, the founder of robotics firm RoboTerra.

Every company, whichever sector you belong to today, eventually you will be a data company very soon," Zhang said Wednesday. As such, it's important to "pay attention to data, collect the data, analyze them, so you can have better products and services [to provide] back to society."

Without those data-driven insights, companies will be hard-pressed to stay relevant, she said, emphasizing a theme that has been echoed here at the World Economic Forum's "Summer Davos" meeting in Dalian, China.

Experts have been pointing to how big data will power advancements in artificial intelligence — the next big sea change on the horizon. And it's going to take some work to ensure innovation benefits all equally, and it doesn't exacerbate issues like a growing wealth gap.

Part of that will mean educating the next generation of tech-driven leaders, which is something in which Zhang, 33, is invested. Her firm works with schools to distribute robotics kits that allow children to build their own robots and learn to code.

"It's very important to include everyone — girls, boys, different cultural backgrounds, different language backgrounds — to prepare them for the future," she said.

The Silicon Valley-based firm launched in 2014, and now boasts 70 employees and offices in China.

Although the U.S. and China are RoboTerra's two largest markets at the moment, Zhang said she was also finding growth in countries, like Kazakhstan, that are involved in China's "One Belt, One Road" plan — a giant trade and diplomatic initiative aimed at strengthening the country's influence.

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