The fourth industrial revolution comes to Davos
by Stephen Collins
This week, VimpelCom will be participating in the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting in Davos, Switzerland, as a Strategic Partner, a position we have held since 2006. At Davos, we will be joining corporate leaders, prime ministers and heads of state from many countries, as well as representatives of leading non-governmental organizations.
The theme of this year’s World Economic Forum is “Mastering the Fourth Industrial Revolution.” In characterizing the current digital transformation and its global impact as being on the level of an “industrial revolution,” it parallels our own revolutionary journey towards becoming a major, global, digital player.
When looking at Davos, it’s important to remember something that’s often forgotten in the digital and particularly the mobile worlds – that our industry operates in a wider socio-economic and political context. Davos offers us a rare opportunity to engage with leaders across disciplines, industries, and borders.
A peek at the agenda highlights a number of issues which are of direct interest to VimpelCom and our customers, and are also indicative of broader trends. Some highlights include:
It’s important for us to remember we are by no means alone on our digital journey, and that to a large extent, our prospects rest on an understanding of where the other participants in our ecosystem – our customers and our partners – are heading with their ambitions, expectations and solutions. The fact that our own agenda lines up so closely with one of the foremost topics on the minds of thinkers and leaders around the world will make this particularly valuable. With a wide sweep of the “digital world” in attendance at Davos, we will have a unique opportunity to be at the heart of many valuable discussions.
Cyber-resilience is a core issue for us – and as more people conduct their digital lives through our networks, we have a responsibility in this arena that is growing significantly. It’s also extremely important for all players to understand their roles as well: device manufacturers, infrastructure firms, banks, businesses, governments, law enforcement bodies and citizens ourselves, and how they interconnect.
From migration to integration
In our countries at the moment, migration is a major phenomenon, and takes many forms. Whether it involves refugees fleeing conflict or natural disasters, ambitious young people leaving the countryside for the lights of one of their country’s big cities, or professionals taking advantage of freedom of movement within one of the world’s trading blocs, migration has massive business impact as well as social consequences and opportunities.
Advancing corporate social innovation
As massive players on a societal as well as an economic basis, large enterprises like VimpelCom have considerable opportunity to make social contributions in a more focused and influential way, and are increasingly expected to do so by their governmental and voluntary-sector partners. At a time where corporations still see their resources as constrained, identifying ways to align commercial success with genuine opportunities for social impact can make a significant difference. Our activities in Pakistan with the ongoing SMS mLiteracy effort and in Bangladesh with value added services for the country’s substantial agricultural community are strong examples we can share.
History can be a guide to the future, for even when the subject matter modernizes, the dynamics of power shifts and structural changes often have notable similarities.
The fourth industrial revolution – the complete digitization of economy and society – is upon us. As with the mechanization of industry via steam power, the invention of the internal combustion engine transforming travel and transport, and more recently the power of computing reducing complex, time consuming calculations and tasks to simple push-button operations, we are once again in the midst of a profound socio-economic paradigm shift.
In looking at Davos, the most important thing on my mind is the extent to which we can gain a quick, yet deep, understanding of the expectations, and opportunities we are likely to encounter for the coming year and engage with our peers, governments and other key stakeholders. This will provide us with a better understanding of the changes taking place in the world in which we operate, and ultimately a deeper connection to our customers. We operate in a highly interconnected world, and as we have ambitions of being a leader in this world, we need to engage in the discussions that are shaping it.