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IMD business forum in Dubai highlights interactive dynamics of megatrends and effects of digital transformation on organizations

Regional business leaders introduced to latest trends and effects of digital growth on businesses

June 8, 2015

IMD, recently held its innovative Annual Business Forum in Dubai, which attracted top business leaders from the region. The forum focused on the interconnectivity of the macro trends that are shaping world economies and affecting business decisions. It also highlighted the big data revolution that is transforming the business environment, influencing business models and creating new opportunities for organizations.

The forum was led by the President of IMD, Dr. Dominique Turpin, who highlighted the various macro trends that are shaping today's competitive landscape. He highlighted key factors that will shape the future of the world economy: Ageing populations in traditional markets; new young consumers in emerging markets like the Middle East; increased urbanization; and the rise of digital consumers.

"All these changes are interconnected and it will increase the complexity in the way we do business. Organizations will have to look at new business models to survive in this changing scenario and be more creative and innovative in taking advantage of the new landscape," he said.

He also highlighted that mobile technology is growing eight times faster than the desktop computing industry grew in the 1990s and is transforming the digital industry. The trend toward channeling neurosciences will only further revolutionize the sector, Turpin added. "With the advent of new breakthroughs like the Blue Brain Project, managing the real and virtual worlds simultaneously will become a reality."

He said there are approximately one billion new consumers in emerging markets. Projected growth in GDP by 2018 is forecasted to be the highest in India and Ethiopia. With the share of urbanized population in 2030 to be around 80%, more business opportunities will be created for energy and infrastructure companies in particular. Mainland China will continue to fuel world economic growth but more than ever, the pace of growth will vary by province. "By 2020, China will have 200 cities with more than one million people. Africa will have 40 more," he said.

"Fueling the economic growth is the big data revolution. An example of this is the recent decision by GE to sell off its financial division and invest more in the Internet of Things," said IMD Professor Carlos Cordon who spoke about 'Digital transformations: How companies are developing superior business models'. "When a company's DNA becomes digital, it goes through a transmutation which changes its whole business model. The company's strategy, therefore, has to shift towards one driven by big data. Some organizations are already including big data in the core of their business. To navigate this big data tsunami, executives need appropriate business tools. They need to 'unlearn' past models that were based on stable industries and embrace tools that are based on managing ecosystems."

The forum also focused on the crucial challenges to be faced by the world economy, mainly the scarcity of resources and volatility of prices, not just oil but rare minerals and water. The key drivers for this will be China, India, the Middle East, the growing population in Africa and climate change.

Addressing the IMD business forum held in Dubai, Dr. Hischam El Agamy, Executive Director of IMD, said: "We organized this forum to call attention to the most significant issues the global economy will face in the near future and how organizations in the Middle East can stay competitive through them. One of the key takeaways from this forum is the power of innovation. In turbulent times, successful companies should have priorities to create customer value. They should continue their investment in innovation. 79% of global executives see innovation as more important than cost reduction in the long term. Success is about making your customer's life easier, better, simpler, faster, and more reasonable. This is always a win."

He also talked about the knowledge and business skills today's leaders need to adopt to succeed in the fast growing emerging economies like the Middle East today. Emerging economies are now at the heart of world economic debates and investment fora and it is important to invest in leadership development skills to spark future development, stimulate growth and improve quality of life in economies like that of the Middle East.

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