Digital Technology
Feb 14, 2018

Food for thought from Davos: 5 takeaways from the WEF Annual Meeting

Last month, I had the incredible privilege of representing Genpact at the World Economic Forum (WEF) Annual Meeting in Davos. It was an experience filled with inspiration, optimism, reflection and — at times — exhaustion. And snow, of course.

By the end of the week, I had listened to and spoken with some of the most brilliant and innovative minds in the world. Here are a few key takeaways that still have me thinking:

  1. The future is man + machine: This was a topic I addressed closely in my blog post ahead of the Annual Meeting, but it was also a theme that resonated in nearly every session I attended or conversation I participated in.

    AI and intelligent machines are proliferating into nearly every industry. At WEF, it was clear that global leaders recognize the role that governments, educational institutions, companies, and individuals will each play in shaping a shared future in the age of man + machine. Technology isn't slowing down — it's now a matter of learning how best to oversee its integration into the world as we know it.

  2. We must prioritize the democratization of AI: This was another key theme that kept cropping up throughout the week. The democratization of AI will be critical to building a shared future for all, and it was very encouraging to see so many leaders reiterate the importance of finding ways to speed this process along.

    As Google CEO Sundar Pichai put it, AI will be more profound than electricity or fire when it comes to changing the world. The challenge now lies in determining how to implement this technology to empower people from all backgrounds, occupations, and economic means.

  3. The war for (tech) talent has just begun: Setting the tone for the meeting was last month's report Towards a Reskilling Revolution by WEF, which sounded the alarm on the urgent need for a massive reskilling program to protect workers from the coming wave of automation and AI. The report found that 1.4 million jobs in the U.S. alone are vulnerable to disruption from technology and other factors by 2026.

    I was encouraged to see that while most WEF participants shared my concern about the growing skills gap, they also shared my optimism about the future of the workforce. Most importantly, they are taking action. For example, WEF announced a new tech reskilling initiative to train one million tech workers by 2021. Called the IT Industry Skills Initiative, the program offers users access to a free training portal called SkillSET and serves as a notable example of how we can use technology to drive meaningful impact for people affected by technology. The initiative is also the result of a partnership between 11 of the largest IT companies, showing that collective action is absolutely crucial to battling issues as widespread as the global talent shortage.

  4. Culture — within companies as well as countries — is more important than ever: Whether you are striving to make your company more innovative or seeking to open your country up to globalization, you have to begin by evolving your culture. We must all be committed to creating environments where our employees are inspired to be life-long learners and embrace change. As citizens, it's our responsibility to cultivate a culture that is forward thinking and constantly evolving — otherwise, we'll find ourselves lagging behind.
  5. Diversity is a good for business: Ensuring a diverse workforce remains one of the world's most pressing issues. At this year's event, WEF itself took a notable — if not largely symbolic — step forward by appointing women to all seven of the summit's co-chair positions. Genpact is proud to share this commitment. Roughly 40 percent of Genpact employees are women, far exceeding the industry average of 30 percent. That's because we know that diversity of thought, experiences, gender, ethnicity, culture and background is not only the right thing to do, it's also good for business and proven to accelerate financial performance and productivity. We still have our work cut out for us, but I am heartened to see so many other leaders making this a priority as well.

Despite being tasked with taking on some of the world's most daunting challenges — and hailing from different countries, cultures, and industries — my fellow attendees and I were all united by a sense of purpose and a commitment to progress. It is a sentiment that has long been ingrained in Genpact's DNA, and I am honored to have played a role.

About the author

NV "Tiger" Tyagarajan

NV "Tiger" Tyagarajan

CEO

Based in New York, Tiger Tyagarajan is credited as one of the industry leaders who pioneered a new global business model and transformed a division of GE (formerly GE Capital International Services) into Genpact, a $2.74 billion global professional services firm focused on delivering digital transformation for its clients.