Tianjin, People’s Republic of China, 19 September 2018 – An analysis of Fortune 500 companies over the past decade says it all – the companies that failed to adapt to perpetual change and disruption were the ones left behind.
“I would argue that the most successful companies in the world are those that are investing the most in innovation,” observed Betsy Ziegler, Chief Executive Officer, 1871, USA. “There is lots of evidence to suggest that companies should be investing more and working more quickly, embracing the rate of change and level of ambiguity and complexity that we are all experiencing.”
Addressing business and political leaders at the Annual Meeting of the New Champions in Tianjin, Ziegler explained that of the companies on the Fortune 500 list, half of them have turned over since 2000, while the average duration on the list is 15 years – versus 60 years just a decade ago.
The meeting, which carries the theme “Shaping Innovative Societies in the Fourth Industrial Revolution”, has generated buzz and speculation about the essential elements required for creating the innovative societies of the future. The consensus is that adaptive education, investment in R&D and nurturing talent pools of up-and-coming entrepreneurs are among the essential elements.
“At least 26 universities across China have established AI institutes to train AI talent and this is necessary, but far from enough,” noted Gong Ke, Executive President, Nankai University, People’s Republic of China. China’s vision of creating its own version of Silicon Valley through its Bay Area plan, an initiative that spans from tech hubs on mainland China to Hong Kong and Macao, he argued, will only be achieved with more investment in education.
Preparing for the future we will inherit, one where millions of jobs will be disrupted by new technologies, such as autonomous vehicles and cashier-less retail outlets, will require significant shifts in the education and research space, agreed Ziegler. “Education is farthest behind…Classrooms look exactly like they did 100 years ago.”
Among the transformations taking place, envision leaders in China, will be an evolving geo-innovation landscape. “If you want to create an app you can do it from any city,” remarked Chen Zhang, Chief Technology Officer, JD.COM, People’s Republic of China, “In the US they have small tech hubs. China’s Silicon Valley will be in cities such as Beijing, Shenzhen and Guangdong. Other cities are rising because the threshold is getting lower.”
Emphasizing that fostering innovation environments “takes a village” from nurturing talent pools, adapting educational institutes and developing a supporting policy framework, business and academic leaders agreed there has to be room for innovative mind-sets, the space to experiment, and fail, before future gains can be achieved.
“If you are an entrepreneur you measure the success of your day on how many times you have failed before lunch or dinner. You are always trying new things, testing things and you are going to lose more often than you are going to win, until you figure it out,” said Abbosh.
The best companies are always looking to stay ahead of the curve through investing heavily in innovation.
“Look at Amazon for example,” explained Abbosh, “They run 1,000 experiments a year and they have an agreement with their investors that allows them to spend at a certain rate and it is just incredible. It means they are constantly innovating and finding new markets.”
The World Economic Forum’s 12th Annual Meeting of the New Champions is taking place on 18-20 September in Tianjin, People’s Republic of China. Convening under the theme, Shaping Innovative Societies in the Fourth Industrial Revolution, nearly 2,000 business leaders, policy-makers and experts from over 80 countries will participate and explore more than 200 sessions over the three days of the meeting.
The World Economic Forum, committed to improving the state of the world, is the International Organization for Public-Private Cooperation.
The Forum engages the foremost political, business and other leaders of society to shape global, regional and industry agendas. (www.weforum.org).