Nigel Morris at the World Economic Forum

Swiss Efficiency a Good Omen for WEF

Day One at Davos: An Action-Oriented Mood Permeates the Gathering

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Nigel Morris
DAVOS, Switzerland ( -- Nigel Morris, CEO of Isobar, Aegis Media's global digital agency network, is attending the World Economic Forum in Davos, where the business elite gather annually to debate business, political and intellectual issues. This year, internet and technology and how they're changing marketing and communications are on the agenda, and Mr. Morris will be filing daily reports to

I got here very late last night with snow falling and the roads eerily quiet except for police and security. I got up early to a picture-postcard blue sky and walked to the registration center. I am used to events like Cannes, where that can be a nightmare, but this was Swiss efficiency at its best. Moving to the main congress hall the security was tight but quick and efficient.

The first task was to try and get my arms around the program as a whole. I have one session that I am moderating and another where I am talking. I have a few others that I have been invited to ahead of the event where the World Economic Forum think it relevant. But then there are hundreds of other sessions to choose from across a bewildering array of subjects.

The theme of the forum this year is "The power of collaborative innovation."

At first glance, this could really mean anything, and everyone I spoke to had a slightly different view, everything from convergence in the bio-sciences to personal stories, from the arts to discussions on global terrorism and, of course, from sustainability to global financial instability.

So I selected my program, went to the monitor and, amazingly, the technology worked. Brilliantly. So within minutes I was programmed for the next two days.

Most of today, though, was really talking to people and getting a feel for the layout and logistics. Meetings are spread across Davos, which is a long and thin village. The first thing I decided is that walking is going to the best form of transport. It may not be the choice of plutocrats, but it's the most efficient.

So what do I think is going on here and is it relevant for me and our industry? Firstly, there is actually a sense of calm here that I hadn't expected. People are comparing this year to last year, when the atmosphere was unbridled optimism. This year it feels action-orientated. The topics on sustainability are not about what it is but what we need to do. A lot of people have commented that last year much of the digital focus was on Second Life and everyone having an avatar. This year the focus is on the real power of social networks.

People from all fields seem to want to talk about advertising and communication as well, and that is a surprise. They are very aware of the transparency of action that the web has created. People are fascinated by what is happening to television. Not that it is dying but that it is changing. The level of knowledge of the issues is impressive.

And having just left the opening speeches, the founder, Klaus Schwab , actually really hit a note that is important for us and one that I will try and elaborate on. He talked of the need for solutions outside the traditional models and the need to do things differently and to create different institutions to enable them. He talked of the need for global corporate citizenship and a new business philosophy to meet the challenges of the 21st century. Advertising and communications need this but also have a more and more central role.

Davos has always been seen as exclusive and it is. But Mr. Schwab showed a compilation of video posts from YouTube where the WEF had gone to get the views of real people on what should be the overriding issues debated at Davos. So there we have the power of the media and communication world today. To create windows on the world and involve people.

I'm now off to three late-night sessions on diversity, carbon finance and media connectivity. And I have a 7 a.m. breakfast on globalization.
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