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WEF in Davos took place in the end of May. I was very happy to have had the opportunity to be and experience. And it’s time to reflect on all the experiences and impressions.
First of all, Davos was not what I had expected. It is not an event but rather a series of events sharing a common umbrella, WEF. Secondly it is not commonly managed but instead there is the central WEF with all the public focus supported by a large number of side events scattered around the village surrounded by the beautiful mountains.
So let me gather my impressions here.
Davos is a huge series of side events gathering thousands of people from around the world, to discuss global topics.
There are yearly themes which the side events try to mirror with more or less success.
You must register and be accepted and then remember to get hotel badges, otherwise you won’t be able to enter. There are also by invitation only events.
So basically your activeness determines how meaningful your experience will be. The better you do your homework, the more you will have meaningful meetings and to more you have open doors to visit.
The actual core WEF is by invitation only and for most of us in Davos it’s off-limits. But the most interesting stuff is happening all around Davos.
WEF publicizes a number of themes for each year. These official themes gather leaders and decision-makers to discuss them. This years themes were
Theme #1: Ukraine shines a light on importance of global cooperation
Theme #2: Three interconnected crises - climate, food, energy
Theme #3: Don't use the 'R' word (but it might be coming anyway)
Theme #4: Preparing for the next pandemic requires ending health disparities
Theme #5: Gender, inequality and Jobs of Tomorrow
Theme #6: 'Our future is digital'
Outside of the central forum, the side-events will mirror these themes and draw a large gathering of participants both from the official forum and from outside.
The most visible topics on the streets of Davos were blockchain, metaverse, cryptocurrencies and well-being.
#Blockchain - was an encompassing theme which resurfaced in many discussions but the direct applications were still being sought out. Cryptocurrency was of course one aspect of it, widely seen but not part of WEF’s agenda. Blockchain to have lost of its previous hype.
#Metaverse - this was a rising topic but it did not seem mature yet. There was a lot of talk, also about it being the next big thing. But the demos easily available were a let down.
The discussion was also less concrete, more speculation. It will clearly however continue as a major topic and the interest is there to figure out whether and how the metaverse will allow for new business opportunities or deeper relationships in connecting with people and partners on new layers. This topic was clearly divisive.
#Web3 - becoming the internet of everyone. The talk is about a return to humanization. But it was by now more business as usual than a revolution coming.
#Well-being - there was a lot of emphasis on well-being . Both one’s personal as well as of society and of nature. This was a major concern after Covid.
People have lost touch and mental well-being has been neglected. There was a lot of talk about young people, being forced to do online school.
And that Covid and now Russia’s one-sided attack have sidetracked many urgently needed reforms of the way we consume.
#Platforms - one evident change is that the previous years emphasis on platforms seemed to have turned into business as usual. There was no greater focus on platforms as such.
#Future of cities - our Finnish delegation has set the “Future of cities” as our agenda and this was well-received. We had among the heaviest speakers in town with Deepak Chopra, Sadhguru and Bjarke Ingels to name a few. This really was one of the talks of the town.
Sense of #urgency - there was clearly a sense that the time for discussion and pledges far into the future are over. Actual doing and results are needed now. Some companies have actually started doing and investing their own money (for example Finnish ST1) into sustainable models, now we need to see the rest following suit. Soil erosion was the hot topic by Sadhguru. A global erosion of soil is risking nature and food production.
#Smart manufacturing & logistics - two of the greater global business areas where improvements can be substantial were less prominent than I was expecting. This is an opportunity for future WEF delegations. Our field can do much and we have an opportunity to gather our industry, touch other decision-makers in Davos and be part of the solution.
Tips when going to WEF Davos🥇
1. Pre-book meetings.
2. Read up on WEF pages and other related articles on topics that are interesting to you.
So combining these, be active and agree meetings with writers and related companies.
3. Find relevant events and panels and visit. And go talk to other participants.
4. Networking 👩⚖️
You can meet people on the streets, events, restaurants. Much of the networking happens in the evenings so be prepared for long days.
Bonus point for the setting🗻
Last but not least, Davos is in a valley and the views are breathtaking. Find time to do some hiking whilst there.
All in all, it was an experience that I feel industry can take its place in, but requires a very active focus in participation.