World Economic Forum 2015 – technology vs. global complexity

The following is a post from Jean-Philippe Courtois, President, Microsoft International.

The key challenge posed at the World Economic Forum in Davos this year is this: what can we do to kick-start economic progress amid global complexity? I am headed to Davos today, joining our CEO Satya Nadella, our chief counsel Brad Smith, Mark Penn and Peggy Johnson to engage with government and business leaders from around the world in a dialogue about potential solutions to fluctuating economies and stubborn social problems. For us the answer is clear, although not easy… it’s about reinventing productivity through technology, enabling people to get more out of every moment.

What do we mean by that? We have to look at it from two sides. On one hand, those who have ready access to technology can’t make sense of it all. There’s just too much of it! Our lives have become flooded with infinite devices and infinite data – bombarding us with more information than we can realistically process and introducing fundamental questions about privacy and security. On the other hand, the digital divide continues to widen and put those who don’t have access to technology at a disadvantage when trying to compete in a globalized market.

We believe that technology is the engine of human progress that propels societies and economies forward. We believe that technology can drive equality, simplicity and progress, but it must adapt. This week in Davos, we’ll be talking about how we are re-thinking technology to create tools that are increasingly intelligent, natural, mobile and focused on empowering social productivity. With this change in focus, we believe technology can become an enabler which empowers people to make the most of today’s most precious resource – time. For those with ready access, this means creating technology that works on our behalf, without us even having to ask, to help us make better, faster, more informed decisions. For others, this means providing connectivity and investing in education to truly transforms lives and communities.

Technology is a force for good but it is also clear that it can be used in negative ways and that people have concerns. We need to work together and across borders to address these challenges in a way that respects the legitimate interests of all stakeholders and ensures the global nature of the internet endures. For example, as technology becomes increasingly personal and pervasive, the issue of privacy becomes ever more important.   There is work to be done to ensure that governments can strike the right balance between public safety and important values such personal privacy. We can increase transparency and understanding of how personal data is gathered, used and accessed. It’s an important discussion, and one we’re committed to participating in actively this week and well into the future.

In all of our discussions this week, we will do one thing – underpin our commitment to helping drive economic growth, improve people’s lives and help them make the most of their time – the one thing no one seems to have enough of today. We have already seen the impact widespread adoption of the cloud has had on businesses and governments everywhere, allowing them to achieve more with less, and we’ll maintain our relentless focus on being the most trusted provider of cloud solutions.

We know empowering young people with the means to launch themselves into business equips the next generation with the ability to find new global solutions in shifting times. Our education and training initiatives under our global YouthSpark program, such as Imagine Cup and BizSpark will remain at the top of our agenda to provide the next generation with opportunities to succeed.

We will go to WEF to listen and learn. To meet global leaders and be inspired by the leaders of tomorrow. But we will also voice our passionate belief that technology is an equalizer capable of kick-starting economic growth all over the world, and that there are solutions to the challenges.