Davos Day One: Innovation, CR and Observations on Mobility at WEF

This post was written by Randy Phillips, Vice President and Chief Development Officer (CDO), CSC. He blogged daily with new insights while attending the 2011 World Economic Forum.

My day one at Davos focused on Innovation and Corporate Responsibility.

For innovation, it seems as though the startups and small business entrepreneurs are trying to disrupt and become large. Meanwhile the large corporations are all trying to behave “smaller” and more nimble. Common consensus for both seems to be that the less government mandates and more government incentives are common. Interestingly, a lot of the conversation was about Microsoft. They’re now focused on cost cutting. One speaker said, “what’s the last real value-creating product since Outlook and Office?” An executive from Microsoft spoke up in response…he seemed to differ.

In another session called The New Corporate Norms, the focus was on CR. There is fascinating work being done globally – and it’s being led by the corporates. One CEO said “we do it for business opportunity and the side effect is social responsibility.” Another CEO repeated the same philosophy. “The two worlds can live together. For us, we are focused on education and it’s self-serving.” All agreed that good business is good CR and vice versa. The panel also noted that CR is driven more by corporations than by government. Government incentives? Great. Government mandates? That consensus wasn’t shared.

Mobility was the innovation word-of-the-day on Day One. Ten years ago, all notes were taken on paper at WEF, and then laptops arrived. In one meeting today, a third of the people I saw taking notes used paper; a third laptops; a third iPads and similar devices. One CEO told me: “I can’t comprehend what we’ll be using in 3 years.” It will be something disruptive, I’m sure…

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