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CES 2023: Nasdaq Chief Friedman Advocates for Tech-Driven 21st Century Economy

How technology advancements in modern market infrastructure will impact the 21st century economy.

CTA CEO and president Gary Shapiro sat down with Nasdaq president and CEO, Adena T. Friedman in the “Great Minds: The Future of the 21st Century Economy” session. Friedman expounded on how technology advancements in modern market infrastructure will impact the 21st century economy. Here is a brief edited portion of their conversation.

CES 2023: 21st Century Economy Panel
CTA CEO and president Gary Shapiro (left) and Nasdaq president and CEO, Adena T. Friedman

SHAPIRO: You have a lot of conversations with CEOs and clients all around the globe. What do you think are the most critical areas, opportunities or challenges that leaders are most concerned with?
FRIEDMAN: When I talk to CEOs, there are three key areas they’re really focused on. The first is the geopolitical landscape and how that’s changing supply chain management—nearshoring, regionalization of the economy and what kind of technologies need to be brought to bear to get to be more modern in managing their supply chains. I think COVID laid bare some real concerns there. The second is on digital transformation. As you know, every company is trying to figure out how to become more efficient, more tech savvy, so that they can grow more effectively with technology, as opposed to just having people be the growth engine. Then the third is on people and talent, the need for a lot more tech talent, and the fact that, generally speaking, we just don’t have enough workers for the needs of the companies right now.

SHAPIRO: Do you think there is going to be seriously more nearshoring and more dual source?
FRIEDMAN: I do, yeah. I think every company that is a major manufacturer that has a global supply chain is rethinking their supply chain. Changing your supply chains is a very time- and cost-intensive activity. You can do it successfully over a long period of time—those tend to be like 20-year decisions, not five-year decisions. You’re hearing a lot of lot of decisions have been made and activity is starting. But it’ll probably be another five to seven years before you see real change there.

SHAPIRO: You mentioned hiring, which clearly affects everyone. Do you sense it has changed more recently, or is it softening a little?
FRIEDMAN: There’s something the industry’s calling the “birth dearth” that’s coming. Because of the credit crisis, people had fewer children. If you think about how many people are going to be graduating from high school in 2026 to 2028, there’s like a 7 to 20 percent reduction in high school graduates in that period of time. That is very concerning to companies that have a high reliance on people. Therefore, that digital transformation is really important; to use new technologies, to use AI, to use modern tech in order to avoid the need for massive amounts of hiring in a period of time where, at least in the U.S., we don’t have as many workers coming into the workforce. That is an underpinning of a lot of company decisions to keep investing in tech, even if the economy is not perfect right now.