Digital transformation as an enabling agent for inclusive and sustainable growth.
This is what emerged from the 49th World Economic Forum held in Davos from 22 to 25 January 2019 with a focus on “Globalization 4.0”. The long wave of the Fourth Industrial Revolution has embraced the business world and the entire community with its governance systems. A scenario in which, for WEF speakers, it is key to reform economic systems, making them more inclusive and sustainable thanks to the possibilities being offered by new technologies.
Artificial intelligence, blockchain and the Internet of Things must therefore improve business efficiency (it is believed that digital transformation may increase productivity by over 50%) and reduce inequality at the same time. This objective can only be achieved if the “human factor” is central. Not surprisingly, most of the panels held by WEF’s founder and Executive Chairman, Klaus Schwab, started from the question: Can we trust digital transformation? Everyone now understands that, to give this question an affirmative answer, change should be faced with the right tools. First of all: training.
Estimates say that within the next seven years, robots, artificial intelligence and industrial automation will generate 133 million new jobs, while around 75 million will be lost. A positive balance that will be guided precisely by the skills of human beings. For IBM CEO Ginni Rometty, it is therefore time to invest in developing skills and imagining new educational and career models. Besides, on the market, positions such as the machine–learning engineer or data scientist will be increasingly in demand and company teams will have to be increasingly integrated. This is why the Executive Chairman of Alibaba Group Holding, Jack Ma, noted that: “It is strategic to hire particularly intelligent resources. I myself like to hire smarter people than me: men and women who could become my bosses in four or five years.” The first big challenge for digital transformation is, therefore, linked to people and the skills they will be able to develop in the future, rather than to technologies.
But there is another aspect, directly connected to digital disruption, which was central to WEF 2019: cyber security, which could cost companies up to $5,200 billion on a global scale over the next five years. Security on the Internet has thus become absolutely crucial and, for the most important CEOs in the world, the example to look up to is the European GDPR. For Satya Nadella, Microsoft’s number one, the European general data protection regulation is “a great start for considering privacy a human right”. Hence, he has hopes that a similar regulation will be approved in the US, thereby getting the entire world to converge on a common standard.
This position follows what Tim Cook, Apple CEO, stated earlier. He made a surprise visit to Davos for the first time, not to participate in panels but to meet some of the participants, including the Italian prime minister Conte. “The best regulation is self-regulation” clarified Cook, recalling that Apple was the first to focus on “Privacy first”. Once again, the theme of trust emerged, on which Schwab invited his guests to reflect. This shows how far digital transformation is changing the rules of the game and with them the tools to compete.