Davos Newbies Home

This will be the final posting before I leave Davos this year. A few impressions of the final day.

Once again, the Schatzalp lunch was extraordinary. In my eight years of Davos, only one Schatzalp lunch has been blighted by cloud, and this year the sky was the cerulean blue that one only finds in the high mountains. One thousand people came to the lunch, which suggests that my advice that it is one of the highlights of Davos (I’m sure others say the same) is being followed by many.

This afternoon, I chaired a plenary on “Shock of the new”, how new forms of business and new attitudes towards it are emanating outward from Silicon Valley. It isn’t a technology story, but an organisational one. Once again, we had an excellent panel: Pierre Omidyar, founder and chairman of Ebay, Chuck Parrish, head of Phone.com, Kari Stefansson, CEO of Decode Genetics, and Barbara Kux, executive director of Ford. What worked (and this wasn’t because of my chairmanship) was an excellent rapport among the panelists. Remark was followed by response without much prompting from me.

The conclusions? We are moving from a business world where Machiavelli is the touchstone, to one where trust and collaboration are the foundations. And business will be based on biological metaphors (co-dependence, ecosystem, organic) rather than mechanical ones.

One other touch from “Shock of the new”. Kari, whose company is purely based on intellectual property, noted that over 1,000 years ago, Iceland’s only exports were intellectual property. Iceland supplied the poets for many of the courts of Europe. I was going to mention in conclusion that I wonder how much we’ve progressed in 1,000 years since we don’t, to my knowledge, export poets. However, Kari went on to note that among the ways his company remains human and averts stress is to bring poetry into the workplace. A few of us on the panel concluded we need to visit Iceland.

Right now, the penultimate plenary, on a values-added century, is running (please note the “s”: it’s not value-added). One quote from the opening remarks. “Values are for the soul what colours are for the eyes.” ´Xóchitl Galvez Ruiz from Mexico.

Today started with perhaps the most startling images of Davos. Rajendra Pawar, chairman of NIIT, India, showed some clips of a screen that had been embedded in a wall in a poor village in India. Next to it was a touch pad. The clips showed children approaching this unfamiliar device and within two minutes they were exploring the web.

Pawar called it “minimally invasive education”. That will change the world.

In the same session, “The world joins the World Wide Web”, we polled the audience on whether there was an Internet stock bubble. Seventy per cent said yes. On whether the Internet market would be bigger than the PC market, over 90 per cent said yes.

***Advance warning
Our entire IT infrastructure will be disassembled this evening. So tomorrow’s posting will be, at best, done when I get home to London in the evening. So loyal Davos Newbies (and the stats show there are a few) will find nothing new tomorrow until around 10pm GMT. I’ll keep filing today, however, until the closing plenary.

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