5 + 4 from Summer Davos

I’ve just returned from ‘Summer Davos’, the World Economic Forum’s conference in Tianjin, China. Here are nine takeaways.


  1. The new certainty is that all is uncertain

    All agreed that Brexit heightened the prevailing global sentiment of uncertainty. Premier Li noted that while the recovery of the global economy fell short of expectations, we must not stop eating for fear of choking. Market volatility will continue but with no immediate risk of global recession.

  2. Virtual Reality is a reality

    Some have said that this will have a larger transformational impact on society than the smart phone has had. Rishad Tobaccowala made the point that VR is tangible proof that humans now openly accept the fact that reality has never been enough for us. Right now I would put VR under the heading of progressive innovation versus disruptive technology.

  3. Seek to disrupt yourself or have someone else do it for you

    Continual disruption (think China mass entrepreneurship or Uber Eats) is the road to survival and innovation. We will eventually need to disrupt the disruption model.

  4. A growing and optimistic China floats all junks

    China is optimistic about its ‘new normal’ growth rate at around 6%. China continues to lead the world in growth accounting for 35% of the world’s economic growth so far this year. I noticed an air of quiet confidence about the Chinese and China’s role in the world.

  5. Globalization under threat

    Globalization will continue at a slower pace. Brexit/Trump are emblematic of people moving into a more protectionist and insular state. Distinct winners and losers are ahead. Some feared that Brexit was the beginning of the breakup of the EU. I think Brexit was a onetime incident, Trump will not win, and that the digital economy is a positive globalizer.


  1. Data, Robots and Virtual Reality
    • Privacy is the wrong language, it is about control; the
    • Robots: will replace humans in most tasks, and be companions; robot to robot hand-off is a commercial focus. VR meets AI meets Robots = the future of pornography.
  2. Sharing, Streaming, Post-mobile World and Millennials
    • The On-Demand Economy: Travis Kalanick (Uber): sharing is just the new way of being.
    • Live streaming is staking over regular programming.
    • Post mobile world: from digital natives to mobile natives; the phases of development – Mobile then Cloud now AI.
    • Chinese Millennials: Born in a time of material comfort, globalization, openness forms a fundamentally different worldview.
  3. Living in The Era of Giants
    • Facebook, Google, Baidu, Tencent – but 20 years out it’ll all be different; expect new giants, new models of aggregation.
    • All giants are continuing to grow their growth rate as they grow.
    • Further consolidation of display advertising and a shift away from print advertising will only feed the giants
    • Uber is desperately trying to catch Google in self driving cars.
  4. The Circular Economy
    • When you sell the benefit or the functionality, not the product, it shifts the business model thinking.
    • At Philips they provide light not lamps. Selling the benefit. Philips contracts with a city on how much light they want and they provide that amount of light.
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