A look back at some of the insightful statements during the March 2022 Economic Times Global Business Summit (GBS)
The world is at the cusp of a major transformation, with technology and positively disruptive innovations accelerating the march towards the new normal that will have a significant bearing on both old economy legacy businesses as well trail blazing start-ups.
The changes that are sweeping the world will change not only in the way businesses are conducted, but also on people’s lives with technology and leapfrogging digital acceleration set to raise productive efficiency exponentially. This will force rapid changes in the regulatory and administrative architectures, dismantling legacy structures and approaches and evolving new systems and processes that will call for looking at problems and solutions from a completely different prism. All these changes, however, could come at a cost, particularly for the planet, pitchforking sustainability, and climate change to the mainstream from the fringes of business decision-making.
Global CEO, government leaders, opinion makers and technology evangelists, who brainstormed at the Economic Times Global Business Summit (GBS) 2022, as they deliberated on the path to the new equilibrium, and the crucial need for managing transition with focus on minimizing costs and keeping people at the center of decision-making where artificial intelligence and machine learning will result in `smart’ living in an increasingly app-ified world.
Policies and regulations will need to be dovetailed keeping this mind, which will require a qualitatively changed outlook to policy making. For instance, inter-country economic cooperation treaties are no longer about easing movement of goods across shores. These will have to be stitched together factoring in the implications for people that may not be visible in the immediate horizon but can play out across generations.
Union Minister of Commerce and Industry Piyush Goyal articulated this aspect with great detail in the summit’s opening session, giving insights on policymaking in times of such momentous change. Each piece of structural adjustment needs to be weighed in the visible and potential dynamic of resistance, and then paced out through a layer of least cost-high benefit plate.
Vineet Jain, Managing Director, BCCL, set the context right upfront when he stated: “The complexity of the multiple crises and the interconnected nature of business today demands a diversity of views. This enables us to look at problems differently and hopefully come up with sustainable solutions”.
Over the last few years there has been one common thread among the global commentariat about India, which is about its prospects as a rising world growth engine. That said, there are challenges and gaps that need attention to turn this promise into potential, eventually, into reality, a point that Punit Renjen – Global CEO – Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited, forcefully made.
“First, I believe India must be more open to foreign capital to boost investment, manufacturing and participation in the global supply chain. The good news is that the country is already making significant strides on this front a bit more shortly. Second, India needs to maximize the potential of its young talent by creating universal access to quality education. Third, businesses in India working with the government must increasingly prioritize environmental, social and governance, the biggest threats we face as a global community”, Renjen said.
Bruce Flatt, CEO, Brookfield Asset Management, echoed similar views, describing India as “an incredibly attractive place to invest”.
The common question that everyone is asking is: when will the world return to sustained recovery? Doug McMillon, President & CEO, Walmart Inc did not mince any words. “Choppy, inconsistent, volatile.” In a post-pandemic world, the path to the new normal, of course, is never going to be linear. “I think this is going to take time and we need to make sure that we can bring everybody along, not just middle income and higher income levels around the world, but everyone needs to participate in these economies in an inclusive way to get to where we ultimately want to get around the world.”
One of the most remarkable changes that the Covid-19 pandemic caused can be visible in the world of content. Having remained confined to their homes for an indeterminate period of time forced a dramatic alteration in the way people consumed content.
“This is the most exciting time in the history of film entertainment and the most exciting time for storytellers to get their stories to screen, the most exciting opportunity to connect stories with an audience”, Ted Sarandos, Co-CEO and Chief Content Officer, Netflix, said.
As a corollary, this changed the rules of experiential content. Augmented reality (AR) is now longer an esoteric buzzword. It has entered people’s living rooms, and how.
One of the major changes can be seen in AR shopping. “AR is a really exciting way to see if you like a product. In the past, when you’re just using the desktop Internet, you had to look at little pictures, even of people wearing clothes and things like that, to see if it was a good fit or see if it was something you wanted to buy,” said Evan Spiegel, CEO and co-founder, Snap Inc.
Another colossal change has been seen in digitization of payments, particularly in a country such as India, where cash had been the most dominant transaction mode for decades. The shift is visible and will only gather pace in the coming years.
“We see India in short, as a market that has grown tremendously in payments in the last six years. But it’s still in the early part of a growth trajectory that I see happening over the next ten to 20 years. And I think what we’ll see in India in 2042 will be unrecognizable from where it is today in 2022, most certainly” said Alfred R Kelly Jr., Chairman & CEO, Visa Inc.
The big question, however, is: Will businesses worldwide continue to add to their expansion plans given the global uncertainty? Gopichand P Hinduja, Co-Chairman, Hinduja Group, was optimistic and with seemingly convincing reasons.
“We should not get concerned. This will all be sorted out. The capital markets, which have had a fall in the last one week, are bound to go up,” Hinduja said.
Written By: Anupama Sughosh
Edited by: Queenie Nair