“To move from the old to the new is the only tradition worth keeping.”

I enjoy using this quote. It is an excerpt from a letter that my grandfather Marcus Wallenberg wrote to his brother Jacob in 1946 arguing for the family to move out of its railway interests – the old - and into aviation – the new. Major transitions fueled by new technology leaps happened from time to time throughout history.

We are probably in the beginning of a major such game changer. is game changer has many names: the fourth industrial revolution, digitalization, the era of machines, to name a few. It will also bear many faces. But one technology will be an integral part of it every step of the way, and that is artificial intelligence (AI).

It does not matter if you are an executive of a bank, a retail chain, a healthcare company, a transportation company, active in research or in the public sector - AI will improve the way we can do most things. It will optimize jobs and activities, minimize risks, help us take the appropriate decisions and leave tasks that humanity should not shed one tear over, behind us.

AI can also become the decisive factor in your company’s demise. Competitors may move faster, increase efficiency, establish new operating mod- els or manage to tacitly serve their customers in a much more bespoke manner. Whichever path you choose for your company, AI will have to be part of the discussion.

"AI will affect us all. Get to know it and your path."

At the end of the day it is not technology that creates success, it is people. It is leaders that take the right decisions based on the most accurate data, insights and their ability to work with the best people. It is the ones who do this faster than the competition that will succeed.

If I would single out the one factor that will matter the most, it is speed. In our connected and globalized world, a decision not to act – the decision not to take a decision – may hit you hard. The speed of change will depend on getting people on board through a shared vision, a strong narrative on why change is crucial and a convincing story on how it makes the business – and its people – winners. Without that vision and narrative, nothing will happen regardless of having the best technology at your disposal.

The first step to change is insight and knowledge. AI will affect us all. Get to know it and your path.

Marcus Wallenberg


Chairman of SEB, SAAB and FAM.
Vice chairman of Investor AB and the Knut and Alice Wallenberg foundation.

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