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Unlocking $10 trillion of Value in B2B Platforms: But Ensuring Trust Remains a Challenge

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[yt_dropcap type=”square” font=”” size=”14″ color=”#000″ background=”#fff” ] B [/yt_dropcap]usiness-to-business platforms have the potential to create enormous value for businesses, innovation and society but could be hindered without greater efforts to establish standards and trust according to a new report, Unlocking B2B Platform Value, launched at the Forum’s Centre for the Fourth Industrial Revolution and its 2017 Industry Strategy Meeting.

The new report, produced in association with Accenture supported by Philips, assessed 10 industries. It estimates that platforms could generate $10 trillion in socioeconomic value by 2025. B2B (business-to-business) platforms are the new marketplaces for businesses. They orchestrate new ways of connecting buyers and sellers and creating new services. Some companies will use platforms to access significantly larger markets. Others will partner with specialists to deliver new as-a-service offerings based on their existing products. Companies will also be able to use platforms to share their underutilized assets – from data to property and vehicles – to cover costs and increase revenues.

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“B2B platforms represent a tremendous opportunity for the Fourth Industrial Revolution given the trillions of dollars at stake for both society and industry,” said Murat Sönmez, Member of the World Economic Forum Managing Board and Head of the Center for the Fourth Industrial Revolution. “Supporting the evolution of a fair, accountable and ethical platform economy is central to our mission.”

“The digital transformation has the potential to significantly improve people’s lives and provide businesses with new opportunities to create and capture value,” said Jeroen Tas, Chief Innovation and Strategy Officer at health technology company Philips. “There is clear consensus among industry and government leaders that trust is the cornerstone of the digital economy. Therefore it is key that we collectively address the challenges related to cross-border data flows, security and privacy in order to create a trustworthy platform ecosystem and enable broad adoption of digital innovations.”

“Digital platforms hold tremendous promise for business and society – accessing vast markets, driving new ways to innovate and enabling the growth of outcome-based business models,” said Paul Daugherty, Chief Technology and Innovation Officer, Accenture. “But success depends on building new ecosystems, adapting critical capabilities to thrive in a platform-driven world, and working collaboratively with both business and policy-makers to create the platform economy.”

The report concludes with two principal recommendations:

Businesses must establish new organizational structures, skills and cultures that enable them to shift from selling products to offering services. This includes changes that make it easier for companies to collaborate with partners and create data-based innovations.

Policy-makers must harmonize legal and regulatory policies to enable platforms to operate across borders. These include labour policies, IP regulations and the storage, exchange and use of data.

About the report

The new findings are the result of a year-long, multistakeholder initiative with a community of platform experts from the private sector, policy-makers and civil society. The intent is to guide business leaders as they prioritize their strategic imperatives in the adoption of digital platforms. The new publication is part of the World Economic Forum Digital Transformation Initiative (DTI) which was launched in 2015 to serve as the focal point for new opportunities and themes arising from the latest developments in the digitalization of business and society. It supports the Forum’s broader activity around the theme of the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

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Wide Variations in Post-COVID ‘Return to Normal’ Expectations

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London, UK, Covid-19 restrictions in place in Soho. IMF/Jeff Moore

A new IPSOS/World Economic Forum survey found that almost 60% expect a return to pre-COVID normal within the next 12 months. including 6% who think this is already the case, 9% who think it will take no more than three months, 13% four to six months, and 32% seven to 12 months (the median time). About one in five think it will take more than three years (10%) or that it will never happen (8%).

Views on when to expect a return to normal vary widely across countries: Over 70% of adults in Saudi Arabia, Russia, India, and mainland China are confident their life will return to pre-COVID normal within a year. In contrast, 80% in Japan and more than half in France, Italy, South Korea, and Spain expect it will take longer.

At a global level, expectations about how long it will take before one’s life can return to its pre-COVID normal and how long it will take for the pandemic to be contained are nearly identical. These findings suggest that people across the world consider that being able to return to “normal” life is entirely dependent on containing the pandemic.

An average of 45% of adults globally say their mental and emotional health has gotten worse since the beginning of the pandemic about a year ago. However, one in four say their mental health has improved since the beginning of the year (23%), about as many that say it has worsened (27%).

How long before coronavirus pandemic is contained?

Similar to life returning to pre-COVID normal, 58% on average across all countries and markets surveyed expect the pandemic to be contained within the next year, including 13% who think this is already the case or will happen within 3 months, 13% between four and six months and 32% between seven and 12 months (the median time in most markets).

Majorities in India, China, and Saudi Arabia think the pandemic is already contained or will be within the next 6 months. In contrast, four in five in Japan and more than half in Australia, France, Poland, Spain, and Sweden expect it will take more than a year.

Change in emotional and mental health since beginning of the pandemic about a year ago

On average across the 30 countries and markets surveyed, 45% of adults say their emotional and mental health has gotten worse since the beginning of the pandemic about a year ago, three times the proportion of adults who say it has improved (16%)

In 11 countries, at least half report a decline in their emotional and mental health with Turkey (61%), Chile (56%), and Hungary (56%) showing the largest proportions.

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African fisheries need reforms to boost resilience after Covid-19

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The African fisheries sector could benefit substantially from proper infrastructure and support services, which are generally lacking. The sector currently grapples with fragile value chains and marketing, weak management institutions and serious issues relating to the governance of fisheries resources.

These were the findings of a study that the African Natural Resources Centre conducted from March to May 2020. The centre is a non-lending department of the African Development Bank. The study focused on the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic in four countries – Morocco, Mauritania, Senegal and Seychelles. The countries’ economies depend heavily on marine fisheries. The fisheries sector is also a very large source of economic activity elsewhere in Africa. It provides millions of jobs all over the continent.

The study dwells on appropriate and timely measures that the four countries have taken to avoid severe supply disruptions, save thousands of jobs and maintain governance transparency amid the ongoing global uncertainty and crisis.

Infrastructure shortcomings include landing facilities, storage and processing capacity, social and sanitary equipment, water and power, ice production, and roads to access markets.

Based on the findings, researchers made recommendations to strengthen the resilience of Africa’s fisheries sector in the context of a prolonged crisis, and looking ahead to a post-Covid-19 recovery.

The report strongly advocates for:

– Increased acknowledgment of the essential role of marine fisheries stakeholders and the right of artisanal fishermen to access financial and material resources.

– Strengthening the collection of gender-disaggregated statistical data in a sector that employs a vast number of women and youth.

– Establishing infrastructure and support services at landing and processing sites of fishery products, with priority access to water.

– Investing in human capital to ensure high-level skills in the different areas of fisheries management.

– Improving governance frameworks by encouraging the private sector and civil society to participate in formulating sectoral policies and resource management measures.

The study recommends urgent reforms to make marine fisheries more resilient and enable the sector to contribute sustainably to the wealth of the continent’s coastal countries.

Marine fisheries are a crucial contributor to food security and quality of life in Africa. Good nutrition is a key factor to quality of life, and the marine fisheries sector supports the nutrition of more than 300 million people, the majority of whom are children, youth and women. It also provides more than 10 million direct and indirect jobs.

Dominated by artisanal fishing and traditional value chains, the fisheries sector in Africa is mainly informal and is rarely considered in public policies or in assessing the wealth of countries.

Like other sectors, the African fisheries sector has been severely hit by the Covid-19 pandemic. Covid has affected supply markets and regional trade. This has resulted in substantial economic losses for most households that depend on fisheries.

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Top Trends Impacting Global Economy, Society and Technology

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The new technologies of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, such as artificial intelligence (AI), the cloud and robotics, are changing the way we live, learn and do business at a rate unprecedented in human history. This seismic shift is playing out in a world characterized by unreliable political landscapes and increasing environmental instability.

Scenario planning in this environment can be very difficult for businesses, affecting their ability to plan for the future, and properly assess the risks and opportunities that may present themselves. The Technology Futures report, released in collaboration with Deloitte, provides leaders with data analysis tools to scenario plan and forecast future technology trends.

“The rapid pace of technological change, alongside the global crisis caused by COVID-19, means that leaders today need new tools to understand challenges and develop strategies in the face of an increasingly uncertain future. This report provides three new analytical tools for business leaders to think about the future in a dynamic environment,” said Ruth Hickin, Strategy and Impact Lead, Centre for the Fourth Industrial Revolution, World Economic Forum.

“We are delighted to collaborate with the World Economic Forum to take a disciplined look into the future, particularly as we emerge from a world-altering event, like COVID-19,” said Mike Bechtel, Managing Director and Chief Futurist, US Consulting, Deloitte, and lead author of the report. “We hope that by providing a clearer picture of how today’s nascent technologies will impact our future, we can play a meaningful part in driving innovation, collaboration and economic growth that improves life for all people.”

The report breaks down future trends into four categories for business leaders and provides some examples of what is likely to remain constant in the years ahead.

  • Information: With the volume of accessible data exploding and more of our personal lives lived online, the report projects the probable implications for remote learning, remote working and healthcare.
  • Locality: Since the onset of COVID-19, even more of our interpersonal interaction is virtual and physical experiences have dwindled. The report projects more niche, readily available virtual experiences available to consumers.
  • Economy: The report forecasts a growing likelihood that flexible and clean energy production will continue rising.
  • Education: Personalized education will likely grow, along with the availability of digitized and virtualized content.

In addition to strategic modelling, the report gives leaders a baseline history of how the Fourth Industrial Revolution has progressed. It highlights just how fast technology is evolving and outlines one way risk management could evolve to better address and adapt to it.

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