Recently, I had the opportunity to attend the World Economic Forum (WEF) held in Davos, Switzerland. Committed to improving the state of the world by engaging business, political, academic, and other leaders of society to shape global, regional, and industry agendas, the WEF is quickly becoming one of my favorite events. Relatively speaking, the actual number of WEF attendees represent a smaller community than you might expect. With roughly 2,600 delegates from around the world—many of whom are in the same sessions together—the event provided a unique and intimate setting to engage with public leaders and truly collaborate on initiatives aimed at boosting their economies and shaping better futures for their citizens.
As you can imagine, amid today’s economic backdrop, economic growth was the primary focus for public leaders in attendance. From developed nations to emerging ones, leaders were looking for strategies to either create new opportunities for growth or capitalize on existing investments to accelerate economic development in their countries.
What was clear from my conversations is that government leaders are looking at technology from a much more holistic perspective as part of their overall growth strategy. Rather than focusing on specific products or solutions, the leaders I spoke with were more interested in forming long-term partnerships with technology companies with the goal of shaping innovative economies fueled by technology (i.e., having modern infrastructures in place, extending technology access to more citizens, nurturing innovation in the business community, and encouraging STEM learning in the classroom).
For example, I met with one minister of finance and economic development whose goal was to foster indigenous investment within her country. Specifically, she wanted to encourage her country’s business community and future IT business leaders to invest in the future of the country, rather than seek out external investments from beyond its borders. She was particularly interested in our YouthSpark and IT Academy programs, which help connect young people with technology education, employment, and entrepreneurship opportunities within their local communities.
It was encouraging to engage in these types of dialogues, which focused on technology as a fundamental pillar for economic growth, rather than as a niche solution to a specific challenge. Through YouthSpark, IT Academy, Partners in Learning, and our Microsoft Innovation Centers, today we’re engaging in more public-private partnerships than ever before, teaming with governments at all levels to support deeper investments in technology to fuel more robust and sustainable economies.
These were some of the main topics discussed during the week. WEF provides an outstanding opportunity for countries and companies alike to learn and collaborate with one another. By providing a forum for high-level conversations to take place, new partnerships and strategies are literally formed on the spot, and the results can be powerful. If you’d like to learn more about Microsoft’s participation at this year’s event, I encourage you to read Microsoft’s Corporate Citizenship Blog post for additional details.