The 46th Annual Meeting of the World Economic Forum took place last week in Davos, Switzerland under the theme “Mastering the Fourth Industrial Revolution”.
With the ambitious mission to “improve the state of the world”, the World Economic Forum meeting provides a valuable opportunity for over 2,500 participants from over 100 countries, 1,500 business leaders from more than 25 sectors and industries and representatives from government, international organisations, civil society, academia, media and the arts to get together to explore key areas of global significance.
According to Marc Benioff writing for the WEF, leaders must make conscious efforts to ensure that we master these transformational digital changes which are “distinct in speed and scale and force” and which have the power to transform entire systems of production, distribution and consumption and possibly the very essence of human nature”. “Leaders from all walks of life must prepare for disruptive change as assumptions about growth models are overturned, the international balance of power continues to fray and scientific and technological breakthroughs are poised to transform economies and societies”.
On the Fourth Industrial Revolution, Klaus Scwab, Founder and Executive Chairman of the World Economic Forum said “The challenges are as daunting as the opportunities are compelling. We must have a comprehensive and globally shared understanding of how technology is changing our lives and that of future generations, transforming the economic, social ecological and cultural contexts in which we live. This is critical, in order to shape our collective future to reflect our common objectives and values”.
At ground level this includes business leaders who are in positions of influence from local to international level. Our latest Exemplas Index Research shows that 70% of businesses are either operating a fully digital business or are working towards operating a digital business. This is good news but less positive is the fact that 15% of businesses do not see digital technologies or social media as being relevant to them at all. Faced with unprecedented digital transformation whether operating in the technology sector or not, business owners should at least begin to consider how these digital technology breakthroughs are going to impact their business, supply chains, customers and the communities in which they operate.
Key to the theme of the 16th Annual WEF Meeting was the idea of “mastering” these changes and proactively responding, suggesting that as businesses we have a social responsibility to work together to ensure that these technologies are used for positive ends and to minimise the risks they can create. Rather than thinking digital technology is irrelevant and ignoring the unprecedented changes driven by the cloud, social media, mobile, artificial intelligence and the Internet of Things technologies which are transforming industry and society as a whole we should start to explore the opportunities for improvement and support each other to adapt to the changing environment we operate in.