Davos 2024: 10 Key Takeaways

Davos 2024: 10 Key Takeaways
Picture of Ambar Vitelli

Ambar Vitelli

The 54th Annual Meeting of the World Economic Forum (WEF), Davos 2024, brought together almost 3000 global leaders, policymakers, business executives, and innovators. The summit focused on addressing paramount global issues and setting priorities for the upcoming year.

Here are several noteworthy insights from Davos 2024 regarding the navigation of global business challenges:

10 Key Takeaways from Davos 2024

1. Speed Is Vital for Financial Performance

The business landscape is experiencing a profound transformation. It’s characterised by wide-ranging changes across functions and organisations that present a multitude of challenges that demand immediate attention. CEOs are grappling with questions about the post-pandemic balance between in-person and remote work, leveraging generative AI, addressing issues like “quiet quitting”, and establishing new institutional capabilities for a competitive edge.

Due to this, it’s paramount that organisations move away from outdated models designed for a less complex and stable era. Organisational structures, instead of facilitating mission and strategy delivery, are often perceived as obstacles. Instead, companies must prioritise speed and agility to demonstrate higher operational resilience, financial performance, growth, and innovation.

This can be achieved by decentralising decision-making, fostering a culture of quick response, eliminating unnecessary bureaucratic processes, as well as promoting the collaboration between humans and machines, particularly the transformative potential of generative AI.

2. Generative AI Will Transform the Face of Work

Generative AI has quietly become integral to daily life and is anticipated to reshape industries like banking, high tech, and life sciences, potentially contributing billions annually. Workforce transformation is a significant focus, with generative AI capable of automating 60 to 70% of current work activities. The acceleration of automation, particularly in knowledge work, may redefine occupations, requiring workforce support and skill development.

The technology’s potential to enhance labour productivity is evident. However, its full benefits will require careful management of workforce transitions, addressing risks, and supporting skill development. Generative AI’s transformative impact on society and the economy is still in its early stages, posing challenges that need strategic solutions for its widespread adoption.

3. Cooperation and Competition Are Needed to Overcome Challenges, Risks, and Uncertainties

The concept of coopetition involves a delicate balance between cooperation and competition to promote shared interests. It takes centre stage in addressing current global challenges. Despite existing geopolitical divides, there is a crucial need for improved collaboration, especially on issues like climate change and artificial intelligence.

In this complex global scenario, heightened competition and conflicts are overshadowing cooperative efforts. New power dynamics, evolving demographic landscapes, and the emergence of frontier technologies are contributing to increased distrust. As a response to these challenges, businesses are strategically adjusting their operations and facilities, often opting for closer proximity to home.

4. Sustainability Is Imperative for Business

In the midst of challenges such as higher energy prices, supply chain pressures, and interest rate hikes, navigating the net-zero economy has become increasingly complex.

Drawing insights from actions taken by outperforming companies during the 2007–08 financial crisis and early sustainability leaders, a set of priorities can help leaders navigate the current uncertainty toward net zero. These priorities include:
  • Pushing ahead on value creation with vision and ambition.
  • Integrating cost and carbon reductions.
  • Creating customer partnerships to be an early winner in the market.
  • Updating the portfolio to secure profitable growth.
  • Building and scaling new green businesses.
  • Executing at digital speed to create competitive distance.

5. Effective Transformation Requires a Comprehensive Approach

Business leaders are grappling with the complexity of balancing near-term financial performance and commitments toward a net-zero world. To create value in the net-zero transition, organisations should adopt a comprehensive approach that involves:
  • Pushing ahead on value creation.
  • Integrating cost and carbon reductions.
  • Creating customer partnerships.
  • Updating the portfolio for profitable growth.
  • Building and scaling new green businesses.
  • Executing at digital speed.
These initiatives can help businesses gain a competitive advantage and secure profitable growth.

6. New Threats and Challenges Need Global Collaboration

Since the Annual Meeting unfolded against a complex geopolitical and geoeconomic backdrop, world leaders emphasise the need for global collaboration and cooperation to address global challenges like climate change and AI. Disinformation, global solidarity, and the inclusion of diverse voices are additional multifaceted challenges that require global attention.

7. High-Value Roles Need Top Talent

The rise of technical roles across various industries, coupled with a shortage of skilled individuals to fill them, has prompted a shift from credential-based to skills-based hiring. It involves assessing candidates based on their skills rather than traditional credentials like college degrees.

Two main factors are driving the trend towards skills-based hiring. Firstly, it aims to create more accessible opportunities, challenging the notion that a college degree is a mandatory barrier for certain jobs. Secondly, organisations, particularly those with technical roles, are struggling to find individuals with the required skills. By eliminating formal job requirements, companies can identify and prioritise the necessary underlying skills.

8. Better Women's Health Boosts Economy

Over the last two centuries, there has been a remarkable increase in global life expectancy, rising from 30 years to 73 years. While women experience longer life spans, they also spend a significant portion of their lives in poor health and with various degrees of disability, impacting their overall well-being, productivity, and earning potential. On average, a woman is expected to endure nine years in poor health, which is 25% more time compared to men.

Better health is not only linked to improved quality of life but also correlates with economic prosperity. The women’s health gap results in the loss of 75 million years of life annually due to poor health or early death, equivalent to seven days per woman per year. Closing this gap could have an impact similar to 137 million women gaining full-time positions by 2040, lifting women out of poverty and enabling greater self-sufficiency.

9. Diversity Leads to Improved Business Performance

Companies in the top quartile for both gender and ethnic diversity are 9% more likely to outperform their peers. In addition, businesses with greater diversity on their boards are statistically more likely to outperform financially. Meanwhile, those in the bottom quartile for both are 66% less likely to outperform financially.

To achieve lasting impact, businesses should:
  • Commit to a systematic, purpose-led approach to DEI.
  • Embed DEI strategy in company-wide business initiatives while tailoring to local contexts.
  • Prioritise belonging and inclusive practices.
  • Embolden and activate champions and allies.
  • Act on feedback, including dissenting voices.

Despite the challenges in the business environment, it’s beneficial for companies to move beyond mere representation and integrate DEI in a purpose-driven approach to broaden positive impact across stakeholders, employees, communities, and the environment.

10. India Has Transformative Potential

India, recognised as one of the world’s fastest-growing economies, aims to attain high middle-income status by 2047. The country is committed to achieving net-zero emissions by 2070.

In addition, India has made significant strides in poverty reduction, with a remarkable halving of extreme poverty from 2011 to 2019. However, challenges persist, including ongoing inequality in consumption, child malnutrition, and concerns about job quality, wage growth, and low female labour force participation.


Davos 2024 served as a pivotal platform for global leaders to deliberate on pressing issues that define the trajectory of our interconnected world. It highlighted the imperative for businesses to adapt swiftly, leveraging transformative technologies like generative AI while embracing sustainability as a guiding principle. The call for enhanced cooperation and competition in the face of geopolitical divides resonated throughout, emphasising the need for a collective response to challenges such as climate change and AI.

As we move forward, it is clear that sustainable, agile, and collaborative approaches will be paramount in shaping a resilient and prosperous future for businesses and societies worldwide.

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