This month I will again be attending the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland, where the main topic is Globalization 4.0 – the name given to the evolution of globalization driven by technology and the movement of ideas, people, and goods in what is termed the Fourth Industrial Revolution. Our discussion will centre on how this new phase of globalisation can positively affect the way individuals, communities, governments, and companies from across the business spectrum, relate to each other and the world at large.
WEF’s annual agenda has a way of neatly summarising global currents and trends to help us make sense of, and navigate, change and this year is no different. The agenda suggests that Globalization 4.0 is driven by four trends:
- A shift in economic leadership, no longer dominated by multilateralism but characterized by what is called plurilateralism or a shift from agreements between many countries to just a few.
- A similar shift in global power from unipolar to multipolar, where the power of large singular economies has dissipated towards a more balanced economic landscape.
- Ecological challenges such as climate change that are threatening socio-economic development.
- The Fourth Industrial Revolution, which is introducing technologies at a speed and scale unparalleled
in world history.
The challenge is set. As business leaders, it is to ensure that Globalization 4.0 delivers positive outcomes driven by cooperation at corporate, government and international levels. This is a significant task and one not easily achieved, but the scale and importance of it – and the pivotal role of business as an enabler of change – is the reason why WEF remains as relevant and essential as ever.
In my view, how we react to the drivers of Globalization 4.0 will be crucial in defining its impact on the pharma and healthcare sectors and the people and communities we support. In particular, embracing the Fourth Industrial Revolution and the rapid advancement of technology is an area where we can exert control and influence and achieve positive outcomes that make a tangible difference.
We’re early in our journey, but we are already leveraging the power of disruptive technologies to transform the delivery of health-related information and treatments. This year’s WEF agenda is a further reminder that aging populations and high levels of inequality across the world mean we need to continue to be smarter in the way we deliver healthcare and continue to innovate. As I’ve noted before, that involves moving beyond bricks and mortar and shifting our focus from treatment to prevention and thinking and acting more as a healthcare technology business than a pharma one.
But this driver also impacts the others. While the first two drivers appear geopolitical in nature, they are also a reminder that the delivery of healthcare and treatment is a global or universal challenge, framed by the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals and increasingly empowered by digital technologies. Globalisation 4.0 promises innovation at scale across supply chains, with new technologies and rich data enabling greater levels of regionalisation and targeting to make sure every global citizen has access to medical information and treatment they need, breaking down traditional geographical boundaries and the differences between emerging and mature markets.
This is a lofty ambition, but it’s why the WEF exists: to challenge orthodoxy and envision the possible amid a changing dynamic global landscape to make a better world. Globalization 4.0 is certainly framed by a myriad of challenges, but with challenge comes great opportunity, that can be empowered by collaboration and ideas. This same approach is core to our business, where we work to blur the lines between technology and healthcare and create new partnerships that deliver for people globally.
As always, WEF is about looking forward and imagining as yet unknown futures. I look forward to sharing more thoughts as to what this journey might look like at the conclusion of our deliberations.