Davos has been home to many a great storyteller – from Arthur Conan Doyle who sketched the character of Sherlock Holmes to Robert Louis Stevenson, who wrote the final chapters of Treasure Island here. And yet, when it comes to the conflicts and plotline that world leaders were dealing with as they searched for resolutions at Davos this year, fact beat fiction hands down.
The lingering shadow of the pandemic, a new shadow of war, three interconnected global crises – energy, food, climate – the list was long. And yet it was reassuring to see the energy and resolve in the face of such global headwinds. I look back at three important directional shifts that caught my attention at this year’s meetings.
Digitalisation stands at the heart of the climate change crisis
For years now, we in the technology industry have worked hard to showcase the power of digital technologies in solving an array of challenges facing the world. Carefully executed solutions, leveraging data and artificial intelligence, that held the key to alleviating intractable problems like rising emissions, rising energy prices and rising food prices. This year, it was especially comforting to see its overriding acceptance as the route of choice. As we heard repeatedly at Davos this year: You can’t go green if you’re not going digital. Digitalisation and sustainability have both been dominating leadership agenda in the recent past but in separate contexts. I believe the recognition of their interdependence this year saw a big leap forward.
Over 20% of the world’s public companies, including us at HCL Technologies, have committed to net-zero carbon emission targets. Several of the contributing metrics on this journey can be addressed through technological interventions. The list is long and some solutions are literally low-hanging fruits. Davos reminded this truth more loudly this year and I hope the word has travelled far.
The need to embrace Skills-in-progress
There is no doubt that we’re all operating in an environment that demands lifelong learning today. Studies showcased at Davos revealed that a billion people are going to need reskilling and relearning by 2030. Clearly, this will transpire over a continuum, as we find ourselves in a mega-transition. It is time for workplaces to adapt to changing people – people in the middle of their upskilling or reskilling process. Time to mind the gap by recognizing the growing phenomenon of “skills-in-progress” and embrace those on the move through a plug-and-play approach, with skill-based hiring and easy mobility of credentials.
Realizing the need to ‘Shift Left’
In the world of technology, Shift Left is a well-known practice. Together with continuous testing through the development lifecycle, it helps eliminate risk in the software delivery process. Recent turbulence in the business environment have forced leaders to make one too many changes in their business models, policies and processes. Understandably, not all have been or can be successful. Therefore, leaders are seeing the benefit of shifting left, testing changes early wherever possible, before rolling them out on a wider scale. As a company that is immersed in DevOps, we can vouch for its advantage, as continuous testing is part of our ethos.
Be it talent or supply chain, risk management or pricing, we’re all navigating uncharted routes. Shifting left gives us a better chance of success.
Pace is the only case
Leaders are being challenged with crisis after crisis in an imperfect storm. To get an idea of how fast things are changing, picture this: If Davos has taken place in January 2022 as originally scheduled, there would have been no war in Europe by then, nor rising energy prices and inflation fuelled by it. Discussions might have centred around the pandemic. By the time Davos comes around again in January 2023, we might be faced with a whole new plotline. There is no business as usual anymore as we move into uncharted waters. And rather than Sherlock, these three shifts might be some of our best bets to navigate forward successfully.