S02E24: Tech 500, 2021 top influencers & trends

Who were the most influential personalities in tech in 2021? What trends have shaped the sector? What role do journalists play in this area? Have we seen a greater representation of women in tech in the last twelve months? These and other questions are answered in this special episode of Without Borders in which we look at the key findings of the Tyto Tech 500, our annual report on the tech sector in the UK, Germany and France. 

Sabrina Horn, award-winning CEO, tech communications expert, advisor/board member, and author of “Make It, Don’t Fake It: Leading with Authenticity for Real Business Success”, is in charge of moderating this discussion featuring a Tyto expert from each of the countries analysed: UK’s Zoë Clark, Head of Media and Influence at Tyto, Germany’s Silke Rossmann, Head of Practice, and France’s representative, Shamina Peerboccus a Senior Consultant at the agency. 

As well as presenting the highlights of the Tech 500, our Tyto experts share what a US communications person or marketer looking to bring their brand to Europe should take from the ranking, what an individual needs to do to be able to get onto this list, and what aspect from this year’s trends really caught their attention. 

You can watch the recording on our YouTube channel here: https://youtu.be/2nQLHYmLcG0

Interested in the 2021 edition of the Tech 500? Here you can see the top 50 influencers in each country and download the full report: https://tytopr.com/tyto-tech-500-power-list-2021/


Sabrina Horn: [00:00:05] Hello everyone, welcome to the Tyto Tech 500 webinar, or if you’re listening to the Tyto podcast, thank you for tuning in to this new episode. If you’re here, you’ve probably heard of the fifth edition of Tyto’s Tech 500 Power List, a ranking of the most influential individuals in European tech. It is the first data-driven ranking that doesn’t rely on single metrics or subjective opinion, and we’re here to learn more about it today. We will also discuss what creates influence and the impact of COVID-19 on this impressive power list. And of course, what this means for us in tech and communications in the United States. My name is Sabrina Horn, I’m the CEO of Horn Strategy, and author of “Make It, Don’t Fake It: Leading with Authenticity for Real Business Success”. I’m delighted to be joined today by three Tech 500 experts. UK’s Zoë Clark, Head of Media and Influence at Tyto, Germany’s Silke Rossmann, Head of Practice, and France’s representative, Shamina Peerboccus a Senior Consultant at Tyto. They will guide us through the Tyto Tech 500 findings and show us why this ranking is so important, and how it is relevant to us in tech and comms in the US. One of Tyto’s aims with the Tech 500 is to help you as companies entering Europe understand the tech landscape in the region. I have been working in tech for many, many years now, and I’m excited to host this discussion, and analyze the importance of influence in today’s technology world. Please remember that you can listen to the Tyto podcast, in your preferred podcast app, or watch the recording in the Tyto PR YouTube channel if you’re not here already. So with that, over to you Zoë, to know more about the Tyto Tech 500 Power List. 

Zoë Clark: [00:02:15] Hi everyone, and thank you so much Sabrina, that’s a great intro there. Yeah, so let me tell you a little bit more about the ranking that we’ve created. So I think the first thing to say is that so, when we really started creating this Tech 500 Power List back in 2017, our aim really was to identify the most influential people within the tech sector in the UK. And also like you say, to really try and understand and shine a bit of a light on what is influence, what drives influence, what creates it. And yeah, the ranking is certainly growing since we started it in 2017. As you mentioned, we use a very deliberate methodology based on a really objective assessment. And we have indeed been able to chart those kinds of top 500 in the UK for five years now, and in Germany for three years. And we are very successfully added France to our report last year. And we started by focusing on the top 100 influencers there, but this year we’re proud to say that we have been able to build on that. And we have expanded that French list to an analysis of the top 500 there as well, so much in the other two countries. So now we now have a nicely well-rounded European list and individual rankings for each country. And as a result, I said, I suppose this year’s report really is more comprehensive than ever. And it really does provide a clear picture of influence across Europe and those three largest economies in our market. Each year, I always find the list and the ranking interesting, because it really does not only tell us about who is influential, but also what it means to be an influencer in that particular year. We’ve witnessed some quite interesting shifts and changes and trends over the years. And there’s many different categories of technology that we monitor as well, which we’ll touch on as we go. Just want to touch on briefly about how exactly we create this ranking because as you said, it is the sort of objective view really. We find that most rankings that we see are very subjective they’re often based purely on a lot of simply social media sort of prowess. Whereas we think about influence as a much more well-rounded idea. And therefore, our 500 ranking is determined by a combination of factors. One is an individual social media clout, and the second criteria is their online, personal and brand visibility, and also their earned media presence. And obviously just to mention it, we do include journalists in our list who tend to have quite a high online presence by the nature of their jobs. So we do rank them slightly differently and we take that into account of course, as well. And we produce, as I say, this nice broad ranking, which includes 17 different tech sectors, right from AI to Travel and TransporTech, and also covers eight categories of influencers as well, whether that’s an academic or business leader, a journalist, etcetera. So hopefully that gives you a bit of an overview. So this year we have three key themes which have emerged, and between myself and my colleagues Silke and Shamina, we’re just going to take you through some of the key findings now. The first one I’m going to touch on is the GreenTech boom. And it’s fair to say that this has certainly shot up in the rankings based on last year, the number of GreenTech influencers has increased hugely significantly in each of the rankings, France, Germany, and the UK, as you can see, there’s 160% increase, would you believe in, in GreenTech influencers in the UK this year? So you can see just how influential that sector has become. GreenTech is actually the fourth largest pool of people within our fourth largest sector in our ranking behind, I think the likes of FinTech, ConsumerTech and General tech. So it’s really a really niche area, but obviously it’s a very specific niche area that’s becoming absolutely core to what the world is considering. And in terms of the type of people you feature in this list, we’ve got 59%, are those from the business world, business leaders, we’ve got a fair number of academics as well. 15% of those GreenTech influences are from academia and 13% are journalists. A couple of key names just to call out from that GreenTech sector. The first is Alok Sharma. He is the president of course, of COP26 COP26, the global climate change summit, which has just taken place in Scotland recently over here. So no surprise is really to see him higher up as a GreenTech influencer, Caroline Lucas, is a well-known name in the UK, at least. She is an environmental activist and very well-known in the political sphere for being the former leader of one of our political parties, the Green Party in England and Wales. And then also nice for us in PR to see a journalist topping this list as well. Simon Evans falls in at number 29 in the ranking of GreenTech influencers. And he’s the deputy editor of an influential publication in this space called Carbon Brief. I think now I going to hand it over to my colleagues to talk about the second key finding. 

Shamina Peerboccus: [00:08:03] Thank you, thank you, Zoe. So we saw a rise of influencers in the HealthTech and the BioTech space this year, which is probably not really surprising in the end. So they appeared last year in the reports. They have really increased, but this year the trend was even more pronounced. We saw in the BioTech sector, we saw an increase of influencers in all the countries. And I think France is really, is really interesting here because the influencers in France have more than doubled. And it’s pretty much similar in the health tech space where we saw a growth of 35% of in influencers. And again, France is really noticeable because we came from zero influencer last year in this space to having 20 people this year. The overall, the pan-European picture is quite similar. We saw I think if we look at the top 500 European influencers, we do have 47 people that belong to the sector. And we have, like, if we analyze the two categories, the growth was almost 48%. And we do have one in 10 influencer that belong to either the HealthTech or the BioTech sector. In terms of personalities. We see that in the BioTech industry, people are really related to COVID-19. So for instance, top ranking, in the top ranking, we have Kate Bingham who is the chair of the UK government’s vaccine taskforce. She was really key in the UK because she’s the one who led the whole strategy around procuring and deploying the vaccine in the country. And she is followed by two leading figures in Germany, the two co-founders of the German company BioNTech, which is also the creators of the Pfizer vaccine. In the HealthTech space. The influencer that are the most present, I would say, are people who are in the government space. So for instance, we have Chris Whitty at the top of the ranking, who is the chief medical officer for England, and he had a really key role in the UK, obviously in response in response of the, of the COVID-19 pandemic and he’s followed by one of his closest collaborator, Patrick Vallance, who’s the chief scientific advisor to the UK government. And I think he had this role since 2018. So that’s really shows that government members and academics are also really key in terms of influencers. And I think Silke, you can talk us through, the most relevant ones in the three countries. 

Silke Rossmann: [00:10:56] Yes, of course, thanks Shamina. So yes, another major finding that we have seen in our report is we think also largely related to the pandemic, because of course in these times of uncertainty, people are turning more to experts to learn more, get info, get guidance. So during the past year, we’ve seen that the role of members of governmental organizations, whether politicians or advisors, as well as the researchers and experts from academia has largely increased. So the first group, so the politicians and advisors are obviously tasked with helping to digitize a variety of sectors and the expertise of the latter group, the academia suddenly needed for the categorization of the whole situation. So what we saw was that, influencers from the academic sector have grown by 75% compared to the year before. And those from the governmental sector by 57%. Just an example of the German top 10, for example, of the report consists of eight politicians. So that kind of shows you that the rise and, the importance of this category of influencers this year. In addition, most of the top positions in the pan-European ranking are occupied by government or academic influencers. So 30% of the top 100 and even 52 of the top 25. So basically every second person or every second person in the top 25, pan-European belong to either one of those two groups. And if you have a look at the specific people, you will have heard a few of the names already. So I think Zoë, you mentioned Alok Sharma as the president of COP26. He’s obviously in this list. Chris Whitty, the chief medical officer for England really high up there as well, and Rishi Sunak as the UK chancellor of the Exchequer as well is really high up the ranks in terms of the notable government personalities. And if we look at the academia, the leading person here is the French astronaut, sorry, Thomas Pesquet, a European space agency astronaut. Simon Evans has been in the GreenTech top list as well. So he’s high up in the ranks of academic personalities as well, as well as Karol Sikora, founder and chief medical officer for the Rutherford Health. And you’ve seen his name already in the BioTech and HealthTech influencer list mentioned by Shamina earlier. 

Sabrina: [00:13:27] Well, thank you. Those are really interesting kind of core themes, right, and findings, I noticed there are some additional findings in this report notably about women in tech. And I do think it’s remarkable that all four of us happen to be women in tech on this webinar. So could one of you speak to some of the additional findings?  

Silke: [00:13:55] I can certainly tell you a little bit more the role of women in tech in our report. And definitely, well, the four of us seem to be a minority because similar to last year’s report, actually the 2021 edition of our Tyto Tech 500 has also shown that women are very much underrepresented. Only one in five of the pan-European top influencers are women a little bit more 22%. The results have also shown that France seems to be the least diverse country with the lowest percentage of women in tech only 10%, really, or 11%, sorry. Germany is still below average, close to 19%. The UK is a little bit above average with the highest proportion of women. But again, it’s only approximately 24% so still very much underrepresented, unfortunately. I think we do have a few more additional key findings. Zoë did you want to continue?  

Zoë: [00:14:54] Yeah, absolutely. So I was, well actually, yes, I was just going to go on to talk a little bit about, yeah, I think the interplay of journalists in our ranking is especially interesting this year. We’ve really seen sort of a marked change, I suppose, that now the second largest group in our ranking in the UK and Germany, which of course for us as PRs is, fantastic news. And I think just serves to show, for anyone listening to this webinar or podcast recording from outside of our region, the influence and the role that these people play in our society, I think. You can see that they’re the second largest group in UK and Germany, third largest in France and the second most prevalent across the pan-European 500 as a whole with almost 30% of a chunk of our overall ranking there. As you can see that, we’re talking about journalists, who cover a wide range of different topics, everything from FinTech to GreenTech, to the more general, more general, bits as well. So that was certainly something we noticed. And the other thing that the reports we always like to not just, track influence about what’s relevant to today, but we like to obviously keep an eye on the future as well as we are a PR agency that focuses on the tech sector, quite squarely, we’re always looking as emerging techs and seeing what’s on the horizon in that respect. And what we found is that there are sort of three different emerging techs that we think we should be keeping an eye on. So one of those is the Logistics and Manufacturing space. There’s a lot of activity there in that sector, lots of influencers joining our ranking this year and in that area, and SpaceTech as well. So massive, massive growth and Quantum as well, especially in the UK there there’s four, four influencers in our top 500 in the UK. So just definitely something to keep an eye on for all of us, I think , it’s certainly something we’re keeping an eye on here at Tyto . And that’s it. I think that’s the overview we wanted to provide about the, the overall ranking for this year, Sabrina. Thank you for giving us the space too. 

Sabrina: [00:17:18] Yes, well, absolutely. I mean, it really is very impressive. So congratulations. And I thank you for sharing the findings with us. I think we’d like to now turn to the discussion part of our webinar today. I have a few questions. Let’s start with Zoë first, first question, and then we’ll go to Silke and Shamina. So what should a US communications person or marketer looking to bring their brand to Europe take from this year’s ranking? I mean, bottom line, what does this mean for the US audience? 

Zoë: [00:18:01] That is the question, right? What does all this mean? There’s a lot in it, isn’t there? And there’s a lot of ways I think we could, we could take that and think about it. I think, first of all, breaking it down, clearly, especially around the rise of GreenTech, the rise of HealthTech and BioTech clearly, right. It really reflects the world that we’ve all been living in for the last year or so. There is absolutely no getting away from that. And I think in terms of what we can take, what the US, I suppose, comms or marketing person might want to take from this list. I think, first of all, thinking about it from their own seats in the US and thinking about it for that market, actually, although we focus obviously on Europe, I think what we get into is that some of the general trends we’re seeing in our report this year could well be similar to trends you might find in the US given the globalized nature of the world we’re obviously living in. And obviously if they’re not exactly the same, they might be slightly further ahead or behind, but I think there’s a lot of similarities that we can expect there. I think, especially obviously, like we talked about the GreenTech, the influence of GreenTech on the social and media agenda and the impact that the Health and BioTech sectors are having in 2021, I suppose that’s definitely, probably going to be extractable to, to the US market as well, but a couple of things from the other perspective of, of a US audience thinking about, well, what does this mean to me? What does this mean in terms of operating in the European market? Well, I think the first thing is just to think about that the people in this list and the topics and the sectors that they cover, those are the things that are driving the agenda in Europe. So if you’re thinking about operating over here, then these are the things that you need to know about and recognize that are going on over here. And we’re talking about, these are kind of the trends and impacts that are impacting the individual country and regional economies as well. So, it’s no small thing, no small impacts, but I think also thinking about it from a tech perspective, if we’re all, as you say, women in tech today, it’s the sector we work in. I think what’s also just interesting for me is that I think it’s plain to see just how pivotal tech is becoming in addressing and solving some of the world’s biggest challenges and issues. And that’s really quite exciting. I think that’s really, really evident from this year’s list. 

Sabrina: [00:20:29] Right, very good. 

Zoë: [00:20:31] I’m sure my colleagues have got other thoughts and things as well. 

Sabrina: [00:20:33] Yes, Silke, over to you. 

Silke: [00:20:35] Just additional one Zoë. I think while I completely agree with Zoë, that the report definitely shows that the overall trends are quite global and there might, one market might be a little bit behind another one might be a little bit of in front of the trend, but I think what the list also clearly shows us is that there is just no such thing as the European market, right? Each market within Europe does have its own rules, own languages, own cultures. And also as we see own influencers. So I think this is really important to remember for any US brand, any brand really when expanding into Europe. So that is true for the UK, even though, the language is shared, but it even more true for the markets. So even within Europe, I think the Nordics cannot be considered to be just one market nor can the DACH region. So Germany, Austria, and Switzerland, even though those three markets kind of share the same language, it’s still different markets, different cultures, different approaches. And I think that’s really important to acknowledge, especially from a comms and marketing perspective when expanding a brand. 

Shamina: [00:21:44] Yeah, I completely agree with you Silke. from a French perspective, like language is so important. It’s really key and I do have a concrete example. So for instance, when we’re asked to distribute, press release in English, in either France or in Germany, almost, pretty much always, we just against, advise against this, because this is just it’s still, it’s too much work. If we expect the journalists to cover a story, we cannot expect them to also translate, translate the story. This is, they have no time. And on top of that, if a brand or a business, they really want to enter our markets, but they cannot be bothered to localize the content that they want the audience to read. They’re putting themselves at risk of not being really serious on these markets. So we have like a general rule where we say, if we are, if you’re not, if you think it’s not worth translating or localizing a press release, then it’s probably not worth distributing it. 

 Sabrina: [00:22:46] Interesting. Very interesting and very helpful, thank you. So I have another question. How does one actually get onto this list? 

Zoë: [00:23:02] Million dollar question. The amount of times we do get asked that it’s funny that we issue the ranking and we have, subsequent catch-ups with clients that week. It’s funny how many of them say, “Come on, tell us how can we get X,Y,Z spokesperson on it the next year?” Yeah, it certainly a good question for us. Funny actually, because my immediate thinking on this plays back to what Shamina was just saying, which really comes back to relevance. There’s relevance in local market when we’re dealing in Europe and making sure it really hits the spot. And I think, again, what this year’s ranking has shown me, is that just the clear link between influence and relevance, right? Because if you think about all the people who are ranked highly on this year’s list, the reason they’re ranked highly is because they’re proving their relevance to the audience that they’re communicating with. They’ve been instrumental some of these people in navigating us through the pandemic, etcetera, etcetera, all these kinds of global trends. And I just think, really highlights that the reason that they’re joining the list is because they’re, demonstrating how relevant they are. So I think that’s definitely something that we can all take heed offers as PR and communication professionals for sure. I also think that we certainly, at Tyto see influencers as quite a well-rounded concept. It’s not just, about a social media following or a Twitter following, turning out content to get followers. It’s much more than that. I think, especially being influential in tech is, is about having, yes a profile on social media of course, but it’s also about that media presence you can, you can gain online. It’s about a number, a number of things, really. So yeah, we’re happy to say actually that we do have a few clients on the list. One example I can draw on is the CEO of a company called, iProov, who are in the business of facial verification or facial biometric authentication and their CEO, Andrew Bud is somebody we’ve been working with for four or so years now. And we’ve certainly taken the presence of iProov on a good few steps over the years, and we’ve been working with them and really, helped grow their brand in the UK, and in doing so Andrew Bud, the CEO’s profile as well. And he does now feature in the list. Silke, I think you’re gonna, I think there’s another of your clients on there as well, right? 

Silke: [00:25:54] Not, not technically, but a very good example is Sara Viera from a company called Remote. So she’s an influential developer in Germany. And as we mentioned before, one of the few women on the list, she’s actually on rank 80 of the top 500 in Germany. And while Zoë just said, it’s not only about the social media following for sure, but for her really, it is one essential, one of the essential factors because she does have that huge following. So she she’s written a book about coding, which has been all over the place. She’s a blog, and she’s also really active on LinkedIn, on Twitter she has like 37,000 followers. She’s on YouTube. She organizes meet-ups and she is on conferences. So she’s really all over the place. You can’t really miss her within the developer scene. So that obviously helps her to be high up in, in this ranking. But I think what we also can see generally, when we’re looking at the people on this list is it’s really interesting to consider what they have in common. And what we found is that they all seem to be either educating, democratizing or sharing their knowledge. So, and actually on however broad or niche a topic is. And we think, well, some of them, they have kind of the intrinsic motivation to do that, and I’m talking from more from a PR marketing perspective now. It’s also possible kind of as a marketer to support your employees with becoming more influential. So if you’re a marketer looking for someone to represent your brand and, be influential for your brand, you need to find such people within your organization. And exactly those people who can either educate, democratize or share knowledge. But what we also find is, these people are definitely out there, but sometimes they just need a little bit of support, especially when it comes to resource. So as a marketer, really look within your organization, find these people and then see on however possible you can support them to become, those even more visible influential people within the markets. 

Sabrina: [00:27:58] That’s really excellent. Excellent, practical advice. Thank you, those examples are really helpful, I think. Next question. So, I mean, there’s a lot of information in this, in this report, I’m curious from the findings, what one aspect really caught your attention and Shamina, I’ll start with you. 

Shamina: [00:28:27] Yeah, absolutely. I think one thing that caught my attention was that we saw a few new sectors, like Zoë mentioned before, and SpaceTech is one of them. And I guess I’m interested because I, in that French list of the top 500, the first influencer is Thomas Pesquet, I think we mentioned his name, he’s a French astronaut. And he spent six months in the space this year. He shared a lot of pictures, really incredible images, like the Northern Lights of just, pictures, pictures of the planet, and also more dramatic and worrying images such as wildfires or floods. And in fact, really, in different, different places in the world. And he really contributed to democratize the subject. I want to say raise awareness, but also he led the conversation around climate change. And I think that was very interesting because we’re all pretty much in lockdown or, restricted in our own home and indoors. And couldn’t really see the outside and him, really showing the world what was happening, what was going on really proved that, people were keen to see and interested and impacted. So I thought that was very, very interesting and relevant this year. 

Sabrina: [00:29:44] Hmm, cool and Silke? 

Silke: [00:29:46] Well looking at this from, with my, with my German glasses on, I found it really surprising that the overall number of influencers within the Logistics and Manufacturing is incredibly low, except in France, in France it’s quite high, but especially in Germany, it’s really low. And I found that surprising because especially the manufacturing is kind of the main industry driving our economy. So apparently people within this industry are not very outspoken just yet. On the contrary though, if you look at the Transport and TravelTech, I think eight out of the pan-European top 10 are German, and it’s largely the C-suite from the big car brands, which are kind of belong to the manufacturing, but are, in their own sector as well. So those are really outspoken and really out there. And that is really somehow contrary, which I found really surprising and interesting to see. 

Sabrina: [00:30:42] Cool, and Zoë? 

Zoë: [00:30:46] Yeah, I mean, I think for me, so I’m Tyto’s Head of media and influence. So obviously my role at Tyto involves not only sort of advising clients on media strategies and that kind of thing, but it’s looking at the innovation side of things as well and how we can engage with journalists as PR people and, really sort of support them and contribute something well to the world around us and to what they’re doing. I think what was just so pleasing to see from my perspective was the predominance of journalists within the list this year, because I think we’re definitely at a really interesting time where the media landscape has certainly changed quite a lot. And the way we work as PRs with journalists is changing quite rapidly based on all the different effects and impacts we’ve seen over the last sort of year or two with COVID as well. The media industry and in the UK, especially I know, has been under considerable pressure of late. And, for that reason, it’s just great to see that the influence is still there, for journalists. And I think, that kind of interplay that, there’s been a lot more money floating around in tech recently as well, right? In the form of investment. And one of the things we’re finding is that, where there’s been let’s say an absence of say big ticket marketing activity and events work in the last sort of year or two as well, because of COVID that that money tends to filter through into PR. But at the same time, you’ve got this kind of difficult situation with the media industry being quite under pressure. And that’s driving just quite a lot of change in terms of how PR and journalists having to work together in the UK. I know similar in France and Germany and as Europe as a whole. So again, there’s just a lot for us to think about there as PR people in our markets. And yeah, I think it’s exciting as well to see that that those media really are still key. And it gives us a lot of, a great platform to go to 2022 on I think. 

Sabrina: [00:32:56] Right, well, I mean, that’s a great summary. I really have to say congratulations. This report offers really valuable information in general, to anyone wanting to market in the UK, France and Germany, especially for US-based companies during this rather challenging time. So I’d like to say, thank you very much to the three of you, Zoë, Silke, and Shamina, that’s it really for today’s Tyto Tech 500 discussion. If any of you would like to find out more about Tyto’s research, you can visit the Tyto website and browse their top 100 rankings, whether you’re interested in the UK, France or Germany and download the report. Tyto would love to hear your comments. And I’m sure these fabulous women would love to help you understand the European tech market. You can share your thoughts by the Tyto Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram channels, or in the comments of the YouTube version of this discussion. And lastly, if you want to keep track of Tyto’s new episodes and exciting views on tech, make sure you subscribe to their podcast called Without Borders. That’s it, everybody. Thank you again for listening. 

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