The annual congregation of more than 2000 top minds from Business, Government, Academia, Artists and Social pressure groups concluded in Davos a couple of weeks back. This year saw a refreshing approach to the agenda wherein “Improving the State of the World” was the central theme adopted. This was a clear departure from the trade centric agenda of last year and issues like sustainability, climate change, education and health were discussed along with banking reforms, trade and globalization.
French President Nicolas Sarkozy set the tone for the forum when he opened it with his remarks calling for a more “moral” response from business, suggesting that human values had been eroded and there was a need for a global values framework. It was an apt observation – the world is recovering from a recession and a loss of trust in society. While recovery appears to be round the corner, the mood even amidst the think tanks that come to Davos was one of prudence, a cocktail of caution and optimism. The caution comes from not knowing if the stimulus packages will work or where regulation and policy will go in 2010. But, regardless, consensus is building around one aspect of global recovery – demand is picking up in emerging markets and that growth would be driven by Brazil, South Africa, India and China.
The blizzard of thoughts, opinions and experiences at Davos certainly helps one quickly identify the ideas hitting critical mass – Growth needs to be more inclusive, we need to focus on not just job creation that encompasses genders, cultures and ethnicity but also on making investments in education and growing the pool of available talent.
Research indicates that a diverse team brings about better creativity and innovation and that their understanding and response to the needs of a diverse client base is better. But diversity is not a number game; we should not look at it as a mere metric – it has to be a sustainable initiative. This will only happen if we invest in education, infrastructure and employability. Today, we have 70 million people in India with disability, only 2 per cent are educated and 1 per cent employed. We need to change this reality and technology has a big role to play.
The WEF had two other significant issues that came up for discussion: sustainability and climate change being one and, from my professional perspective, cloud computing and security is the other.
Sustainability obviously cannot be created in a silo and we need a broader perspective of the issue here. There needs to be cross industry linkages and partnerships, where everyone from the vendor network to distribution, the customer and the end-user, are all in sync. Business processes need to be optimized and business leaders need to act now, without waiting for governments to accept voluntary cuts in GHG emissions. As one of the leading global providers of technology services and products, Wipro acknowledges its responsibility to make a positive difference in the way ecological challenges are met.
As I said, for me, the discussions that focused on how technology could help mitigate environmental degradation and deliver more reliable services globally were of prime interest. So, the working session on cloud computing where we had participants mainly from the Information, Technology and Communication industry proved to be exciting. Awareness of the benefits of cloud computing are high. Large enterprises will be utilizing a combination of private clouds and cloud based services. The SMB segment will leverage the benefits of cloud based apps and reduced infra costs thereby creating a further push in bringing up their technological capabilities on par with bigger players. Going forward, security and governance will be continuously improved, reworked and relooked at especially with data migrating beyond physical boundaries – but the bottom line is that Cloud is here to stay.
While the six days of the summit created an environment for participants to discuss issues and challenges, it also provided a platform to interact in a more informal setting. The evenings at Davos saw a number of companies host private receptions and nightcaps to provide another avenue for discussions and relationship building. Wipro and CII hosted the annual Bollywood Music Nite. It was a big attraction with over 600 participants. The event had a good mix of Hindi music, Indian savories and people from all across the world donning colorful Indian stoles. There were a number of dignitaries who stayed on till the wee hours enjoying the informal party.