Today from Davos

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A team from Jones Lang LaSalle is attending and swapping intelligence at this week’s World Economic Forum’s Annual Meeting in Davos, Switzerland. Here is a post from Christian Ulbrich as he listened to international bankers and Russia’s Prime Minister Medvedev.

by Christian Ulbrich
Jones Lang LaSalle

Davos has developed the tradition of very early business breakfasts. Leaving the hotel before 7am, -10°C in the Alpine breeze feels more like -20°c. Making my way through security, the excellent Thursday night party hosted by one of the major management consulting companies is still echoing in my head, but the topic of the breakfast discussion immediately gets everyone up to speed again.

How are new technologies changing business? The level of connection between businesses and their clients, as well with their employees, is unprecedented. It creates total and immediate transparency. Clients and employees are able to tweet, chat or blog their views instantly, especially when they have a criticism or a concern. The individual becomes more powerful. Due to the internet, Twitter and other social media, one person can bring a company down, or just as importantly, can make a make a brand, product or company more popular. Companies need to embrace this into their thinking because any reaction to a negative tweet already places them on the defensive. However, the opportunity to take advantage of these new communication tools is enormous. The level of collaboration between businesses, employees and clients offers the fantastic opportunity for continuous improvement of a product or service, without having a massive R&D department. It is the Wikipedia approach. Wisdom from the crowd.

Ironically some of these advanced approaches are in fact quite conservative. In the case of Wikipedia there is a massive number of hardworking contributors who have proven to be very reliable. I strongly encourage you to bring forward ideas on how we at Jones Lang LaSalle can better embrace the opportunities of this new kind of collaboration between our clients and our 45,000 colleagues around the globe.

Unfortunately it is not only the day after a brilliant party, it is also the day after Mr Cameron reinforced his plans on Britain’s EU membership. Last night the Atlantikbruecke, a traditional German organisation trying to foster the Transatlantic relations, gave its debut reception at Davos. We were honoured by the participation of several high ranking German politicians and CEOs. The special atmosphere of being trapped in the deepest basement of the main Congress Hotel created a unique environment for straightforward talking. No one denied that Cameron is right that the EU needs a major reform in order to refocus on the bigger picture and leave the rest to the individual member states. Still, there was an element of shock in the room that Cameron put the whole EU at risk for short term political gains. Well, the world will move on and hopefully this referendum will never take place. A telling reminder of the real bigger picture came from Mrs Merkel in her speech yesterday.  She pointed out that the EU, including Britain, will soon represent just 3% of the world population and the economic, political and religious environment is not getting easier out there. I ask you, should we plan to face these challenges on our own, or together with our cultural allies?


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