Insight

The view from Davos: Insights from the 50th World Economic Forum

By Frazer Bennett

Jan 30, 2020

We followed all the latest trends live from Davos 2020. Below, we wrap up our key thoughts on the week. Read our other insights from the World Economic Forum, including what purpose means in the post-digital era four ways to address pressing challenges and why sustainability is key to growth.

For many organisations, the last decade has been anything but a ‘fill your boots’ growth bonanza. It’s been a hard graft. A financial crisis, austerity programmes and low economic growth even in emerging economies have prompted a decade of efficiency rather than innovation. Traditional businesses focused on optimising their supply chain and reducing the costs of production and customer acquisition. That’s understandable. But incremental improvements won’t suffice this decade.

That was the resounding message I heard as I spoke with leaders at the 50th World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos last week. There was clear consensus that we now need exponential – not incremental – growth, powered by innovation. Leaders are seeking ways to establish transformative businesses and business models, instead of just making today’s business more efficient.

People always try to draw a theme out of Davos every year. This year, I would say it’s that we’re now entering the decade of delivery. Davos is no longer a forum for talking about doing stuff, it’s a forum for doing stuff. The leaders I've spoken to want to talk about how they’re going to deliver on the promises they make to their people, their wider stakeholder community, their customers and, of course, their shareholders.

Surrounding this drive for action at the WEF was a lot of talk about the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). They’re set for delivery by 2030, and leaders now realise that commitment to the SDGs is intrinsic to the business design. The companies I spoke to are keen to make them tangible in terms of evidencing the investment they're making, the relationships they have with customers and how they're supporting their people to deliver on the commitments.

The great thing about Davos is that not everybody there is a CEO or Prime Minister, but we all gather together to solve these very intractable problems. It’s a clear sign of the power of ingenuity to build a positive human future.

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About the authors

Frazer Bennett PA Chief Innovation Officer

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