The Great Debate UK

A crisis of trust is at the heart of global uncertainty

By S. D. Shibulal, CEO of Infosys. The opinions expressed are his own.

During the first day at the World Economic Forum yesterday, we witnessed delegates arriving with two things on their minds — how heavy the snowfall was and the realisation that new business models are needed to overcome global economic pressures. (It goes without saying that the mood at Davos hasn’t been helped by the IMF downgrading world growth targets). We all agree that we’re living in a volatile world and it cannot go ignored that there are many uncertainties we face, including currency volatility and high unemployment.

The euro zone crisis will undoubtedly be at the centre of the discussions concerning “uncertainty” but what the attending business leaders, governments and global organisations must understand and discuss, is what they can do together to put in place measures to transform and change, so we can better safeguard our future.

The discussions I had at Davos yesterday support my fundamental belief that corporations have a critical role to play in creating a future where opportunities are abundant and growth inclusive. Moreover, at the heart of the global macro-economic uncertainty is the crisis of trust. Leaders across businesses and governments alike need to work together to rebuild that trust. Creating jobs and fostering sustainable growth is the first step in this journey. While businesses will need to look at measures to manage their short term crises and be truly evolved, smart enterprises will have to balance their focus between “short term needs” and investing for “long term growth through innovation”. We must also recognise that the emerging  future is being shaped by global mega trends in business and society, along with changing demographic profiles.

In view of these trends and the events that led to the recent economic crisis, leaders have their work cut out. Balance the short term versus long term, create a frame of reference to drive growth and innovation, and envision and create a sustainable future. All the views that I shared above resonated strongly with the panel that debated the critical issue of “the role of the CEO” at the Infosys Lunch Panel discussion yesterday. The panel also concurred that talent, which will be at the centre of these strategies is in short supply. Organisations therefore, not only need to look at new hubs of talent but also at retraining and reskilling existing talent pools. Businesses increasingly need to work in partnership with governments and educational institutions to ensure the mobility of talent and the career development of generation Y so tomorrow’s workers are in line with business demand.  Finally, there was unanimous agreement that leadership by example, client centricity and healthy balance of choices are the need of the hour.

from Felix Salmon:

The triumph of Davos

Davos, in 2011, was the year when the cynics were finally proven wrong. Long derided as a sybaritic alpine gabfest, the World Economic Forum astonished the world with what it was capable of this year, deftly leveraging the talk around its chosen theme -- "shared norms for the new reality" -- into an effective and timely intervention in Egypt. The Forum's slogan -- "committed to improving the state of the world" -- became reality, as the actions of a small and powerful few atop a distant Swiss alp managed to give shape and direction to what would otherwise have remained inchoate and dangerous demonstrations in the volatile North African hotspot.

Certainly the Forum had a lot to work with -- it has long been looking long and hard at global risks including political instability in undemocratic countries as well as the demographics of North Africa and the Middle East; the adverse effects of high unemployment among both educated and uneducated youth; the game-changing aspects in autocratic regimes of the rapid spread of information over cellphones, the internet, and satellite TV; and countless other issues of direct relevance to Egypt.

from Breakingviews:

Euro zone crisis may be close to resolution

By Hugo Dixon
The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

DAVOS, Switzerland -- The euro zone crisis may be close to resolution. There is certainly optimism among policymakers at the World Economic Forum in Davos that a comprehensive deal -- involving more discipline by peripheral nations and more help from rich nations -- could be put together in coming weeks. If so, the hot phase of the crisis could be over and even Greece would have a fighting chance of getting out of the woods.

from Davos Notebook:

Cybersecurity goes prime time at Davos

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DAVOS/- Michael Fertik is the founder and CEO of Reputation.com, an online privacy and reputation management company. He is a member of the World Economic Forum Agenda Council on Internet Security and recipient of the WEF Technology Pioneer 2011 Award. The opinions expressed are his own. -

The World Economic Forum (WEF) has named cybersecurity one of the top five risks in the world. In its Global Risks 2011 report, the WEF's Risk Response Network nominated cybersecurity alongside planetary risks posed by demography, resource scarcity, trepidation about globalization, and, of course, WMDs. This is heady stuff. Cybersecurity has officially gone prime time. This week in Davos, I'll be moderating and contributing to panel sessions on this topic.

from Breakingviews:

Global economy not as healthy as it looks

By Hugo Dixon
The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

The global economy is not as healthy as it looks. The International Monetary Fund now predicts 4.4 percent growth for 2011. But inflation has reared its ugly head across the globe, suggesting that many economies are growing faster than can be sustained without structural changes. Spurring on reform should be the main focus of the annual World Economic Forum shindig this week in Davos.

from Davos Notebook:

CEOs hoping that everything comes up roses

CHINA-VALENTINE'S/A few things struck me from the annual survey of CEOs that PwC (yup, PricewaterhouseCoopers likes big 'P', little 'w', big 'C') released at Davos this year.

The most obvious was that 48 percent said they were "very confident" of growth in the next 12 months - up from 31 percent last year. Pre-crash confidence again!

from Davos Notebook:

Davos fails to grab the attention of angry protesters

The days when anti-capitalist protesters could rampage through Switzerland's financial capital Zurich in rage at the Davos talkfest 100 miles (150 km) to the east are long gone.

A couple of hundred anti-globalisation activists managed to rally in the nearby town of St. Gallen on Saturday against the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum opening this week. Braving a vicious north-east wind, they assembled near the station then marched peacefully through the centre of town, barely disrupting the good burghers as they went about their weekend shopping. At the front of the demo a large red banner proclaimed: "Take the future from the capitalists - Smash the WEF".

from Davos Notebook:

Will Goldman’s new BRICwork stand up?

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RTXWLHHJim O'Neill, the Goldman Sachs economist who coined the term BRICs back in 2001, is adding four new countries to the elite club of emerging market economies. But does his new edifice have the same solid foundations?

In future, the BRIC economies of Brazil, Russia, China and India will be merged with those of Mexico, Indonesia, Turkey and South Korea under the banner “growth markets,” O'Neill told the Financial Times.

from Davos Notebook:

Celebrities and handshakes – is the WEF really working?

-Mark Kobayashi-Hillary is a British author, blogger, and advisor on technology, globalisation and corporate change, based in São Paulo, Brazil. The opinions expressed are his own.-

DAVOS AIDSThe World Economic Forum returns to Davos next week for the annual round of handshakes and backslapping between world leaders and A-list celebrities that aim to solve the major problems of the world. But when this blog (http://blogs.reuters.com/davos/2011/01/13/is-davos-still-relevant/) asked readers if the annual WEF meeting in Davos is still relevant, more than two-thirds of you said that times have changed and little will be achieved.

from Felix Salmon:

Davos: Where epic shifts are converging

Chrystia and I differ on whether Davos is actually important. I say it isn't, and Exhibit A is this invitation, which I received today. There will be many, many more like it arriving over the next couple of weeks:

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The whole thing, obviously, is [sic]. But Davos does tend to attract the kind of people who can straight-facedly pretend to believe that entering the human age, or the New Reality, or unleash and leverage human potential as the key competitive differentiator to win, or entering a new era, or epic shifts are converging, or talent is the new 'it' actually mean something.

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