Three goals I want to achieve at World Economic Forum 2022

MAY 19, 2022 • BLOG POST • JOHN SCHULTZ, EXECUTIVE VICE PRESIDENT & CHIEF OPERATING OFFICER

IN THIS ARTICLE

  • Forging connections across boundaries and outside of traditional networks is a vital component of the WEF Annual Meeting
  • We must elevate the “S” in ESG to advance responsibility throughout our value chains
  • HPE is well-positioned to help drive close the digital gap between private and public sectors 

Set against a backdrop of acute geopolitical tension and economic instability; the World Economic Forum presents its attendees a magnitude of opportunities to play a role in improving the state of the world

The World Economic Forum Annual Meeting 2022 convenes next week with more than 2,000 business, political, academic, and other leaders of society coming together with a mutual commitment to improving the state of the world. I am delighted to once again be part of the HPE delegation, with the opportunity to listen and contribute to the many conversations that will take place over the course of the week.

I am also conscious that this year’s event comes at an inflection point for the world, set as it is against the backdrop of acute geopolitical tension and economic instability; the positive role that businesses can and should play in our society is at the forefront of my mind ahead of this year’s Annual Meeting.

I don’t underestimate the magnitude of global challenges and opportunities delegates address each year — from climate to technology innovation to ending modern slavery, a topic I am personally passionate about. Attendees are challenged with the exploration of new and diverse ways to solve some of the world’s toughest issues, and in my role as the leader of HPE’s first Transformation Office, digital transformation is a challenge almost every organization is facing. With this in mind, I’ve identified three goals that I want to achieve at Davos this year.

Connect and share insights

With digital transformation impacting every industry and accelerating at an enormous speed, there is no better time to harness the full power of WEF. One of the greatest outcomes from the Annual Meeting is the connections that are made when you are challenged with out-of-the-box thinking, stimulated by learning new approaches and strategies, and inspired by not only what’s possible, but the engagement and commitment to addressing complex societal issues.

During the pandemic, Antonio was asked to lead a cross-industry group of CEOs and experts to develop new frameworks and toolkits that enable large and small organizations alike to digitally transform their businesses while being enablers of long-term value creation for all stakeholders in a post-pandemic world. Building upon this work, I will host a workshop next week that brings together Chief Digital Officers from across industries – including Mobility, Energy, Materials, and Food and Consumer Goods. This interactive session will focus on sharing key digital transformation priorities, learning how other companies are investing in their digital priorities, and what barriers need to be removed to drive widespread adoption and scale.

Forging connections across boundaries and outside of traditional networks is a vital component of the WEF Annual Meeting and following the pandemic takes on enhanced value this year.

Elevate issues of importance

When it comes to ESG, environment and governance issues are relatively easy to define in comparison to the social dimension:  What should be measured? How to measure when there’s a lack of data? It’s time we elevate the “S” agenda and leverage social reporting to accelerate business transformation in ways that advance responsibility throughout our value chains. To begin, companies can shift ESG considerations from compliance to value-creation by explicitly understanding how their core business can concurrently contribute to social outcomes. Companies can also embed social impact throughout their value chains beyond the workforce and supply chain, from responsible product design to how products can be used for good. Another action is to identify the right goals and metrics that ensure engagement and governance all the way to the Board level.

At HPE, we have embraced our responsibility to develop and sell responsible technology, including through our AI Ethical Principles and by contributing our solutions to social outcomes like accelerating COVID-19 treatments.

Ensuring these issues are firmly part of the WEF discourse during meetings, panel sessions and events is an imperative for me this year.

Contribute and explore new collaborations

Digital transformation has escalated from being a top priority to being a strategic imperative for organizations, and the global pandemic crystalized the importance of digital infrastructure and a digital-first culture amongst organizations in the private and public sectors.

However, the pace of public sector transformation has fallen behind the private sector, as it is often deeply enmeshed in complex or legacy infrastructures, both organizationally and systematically. And, while there are many private sector companies struggling to digitally transform, extending our technology partnership can accelerate public sector transformation with greater agility, sustainability, speed, and trust. 

The theme at the World Economic Forum annual meeting this year is “History at a Turning Point” and we are truly at an inflection point where private sector can drive a common outcome and close the digital gap between these two sectors. HPE has a strong legacy of partnership with public sector organizations across the world and our pivot to an as-a-service company can help drive digitization in a cost effective, sustainable way, enabling governments to deliver better outcomes for citizens.

As business leaders and political leaders come together next week, and as the world emerges from the global pandemic to face yet more uncertainty, strong partnerships between the private and public sectors are needed more than ever. I go into this year’s Annual Meeting focused on how we can strengthen and optimize those partnerships. 

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