This year’s World Economic Forum (WEF) Annual Meeting overall theme revolves around ‘Mastering the Fourth Industrial Revolution’. The business world is only starting to come to terms with how to operate since the Third Industrial Revolution (popularly known as the Digital Revolution) – how challenging do you think it will be for businesses to reinvent themselves yet again to master the Fourth Industrial Revolution?
The late 1800s saw the dawn of our first industrial revolution, when the first machines started to produce textiles which were previously produced by hundreds of labourers by hand. One century later we welcomed the age of mass production with the introduction of the moving assembly line. About 50 years ago, the third or digital revolution changed things yet again as we moved from analog to digital. Since then, emails have replaced hardcopy letters, telegrams and faxes, and more importantly have changed the way we live and do business.
With the advent of the fourth industrial revolution, businesses are faced with yet another revolution. We are seeing entire ecosystems and marketplaces changing and emerging organically, enabled by digital platforms and technology. Take for instance the sharing economy, which presents both opportunities and challenges for businesses. We are seeing established players struggle to maintain their traditional foothold and new and agile players spring up at breakneck speed.
Things are changing at an unprecedented pace, and new risks present additional challenges that both established and new businesses have to navigate through in their search for growth. Couple this with the interaction of megatrends– between demographic and social change, shift in economic power from West to East, rapid urbanisation, climate change and resource scarcity and technological breakthroughs – and the result is a macro-environment we’ve never seen before.
Why is PwC involved with the WEF as a strategic partner?
PwC’s purpose is to build trust in society and solve important problems which fits in well with the mission of the WEF - to improve the state of the world. The environment that businesses are operating in today is growing increasingly challenging – whether it’s the global economy, geopolitical issues or the stiff competition. The interconnectedness of the global digital economy made possible by the Fourth Industrial Revolution means that businesses and society are faced with both opportunities and challenges, and we firmly believe that we can be a part of the solution that helps people and businesses leverage opportunities and navigate through these challenges towards a better world.
Every year, PwC launches its Annual Global CEO Survey in Davos. What issues is the survey going to cover this year?
This year’s survey will look at how CEOs are altering strategies for growth in an evolving global business environment, addressing changing stakeholder expectations, aligning operating models behind strategies that relate to wider societal value and exploring new ways of measuring and communicating business success.