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Looking Beyond the Recovery at Davos

Posted by: Mark Spelman on January 28, 2010

Much of the first few days of Davos have been preoccupied with the speed and scale of recovery and the reform program for the financial sector. It was good to spend time looking at another dimension of change in the global economy today: the impact of technology on business models, value creation, and differentiation.

The danger from 2009 is that our business sights have been focused exclusively on cash, cost, an dcapital and we miss the big-picture trends that are changing the business landscape.

Nouriel Roubini changed track from economic gloom to talk about the importance of innovation and technology in a world where emerging markets will grow over the next few years at 5-8% per annum relative to the 1-3% per annum in the U.S., Europe and Japan. He stressed that long-term economic growth would come from technological innovation such as Web 3.0, broadband, infosciences and the green economy. The speed of knowledge diffusion across the global economy will enable emerging markets to grow and even leapfrog some developed markets over the next decade.

Technology changes are coming fast. Computer processing power is rising at more than 2% a month; cloud computing is providing a variable-cost method of securing incremental additions of capacity and more flexibility; mobile continues to expand--partly because more and more of us have mobile phones—but also through the even faster growing M2M market (machine to machine) where sensors provide real-time data on the state of assets and feed information on asset maintenance.

Despite the debates about the future of globalization, I am convinced that we will see more global interdependence through this new wave of even more powerful information technology. Technology is not limited by borders and will drive productivity, new links with customers, open innovation models, and faster ways of managing the supply change.

The speed of change continues to accelerate with technology as the key enabler, but as the rest of the Davos agenda highlights the road ahead has plenty of pitfalls. The winners will be able to manage the short-term pressures of cash, cost, and capital whilst keeping an eye on the longer-term trends. Rapid technology change will impact all of our operations as we set off into a new decade.

Mark Spelman leads Accenture’s Global Strategy practice and runs Accenture’s global macro economic and political think-tank and the Institute for High Performance

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March 28, 2010 8:50 AM

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