How the world's leading consultancies are eagerly gearing up for Davos

21 January 2019 5 min. read
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The premiere private-public sector event of its kind, this year’s annual Davos conference is once again upon us – and for many international consultancies, it’s the most special time of the year.

The world’s attention will be turned to the Canton of Graubünden in Switzerland this week, as international luminaries from the government, business, policy, academic, media and non-profit domains gather together at the World Economic Forum’s annual flagship event in Davos for four days of Trump-free discussions on this year’s theme; Globalisation 4.0: Shaping a Global Architecture in the Age of the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

Altogether, this year’s event from the 22nd to 25th will feature some 3,000 participants, including celebrated nonagenarian Sir David Attenborough and New Zealand prime ministerial sensation Jacinda Ardern. While Donald Trump, Theresa May and Emmanuel Macron all have various other pressing matters to attend to, Japan’s Shinzo Abe, Angela Merkel of Germany, and Brazil’s newly-sworn president Jair Bolsonaro are among the other world leaders set to attend.

In addition to the heads of international organisations such as the IMF, WTO and various UN departments, almost 900 leaders from across civil society will also join the forum – the executive directors of the WWF and Transparency International among them – as well as more than 1,700 leaders from the private sector, including just about every leading global management consultancy and professional services firm on the planet. And the excitement is palpable.

While Middle Eastern residents will have to wait until April to get close to the action – when 1,000 key leaders convene for the World Economic Forum (WEF) on the Middle East and North Africa in Jordan – they can for the time being keep an eye on proceedings through KPMG’s number-crunching interactive data visualisation platform WEFLIVE, which aggregates Twitter trends from the media and event participants to provide a smörgåsbord of fascinating insights.How the world's leading consultancies are eagerly gearing up for Davos

As members of the public wait to see if Bolsonaro can bump George Soros as the most tweeted about WEF-related identity over the past twelve months, they can also turn to KPMG’s Inclusive Voices series launched at Davos last year, which with a focus on women included thoughts from Annie Lennox among others on creating an inclusive future for all. KPMG is keeping up the glitz this year with messages from the world’s first openly gay prince, Manvendra Singh Gohil of India, former supermodel turned humanitarian campaigner Christy Turlington, and many more.

Elsewhere in the Big Four realm, Deloitte will participate in the WEF’s Future of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Automation in Financial Services project, with an all-star delegation in Davos headed by Global CEO Punit Renjen. Deloitte will also release its 2019 Global Readiness report at the event, while leaders of the firm will participate in a series of live-streamed panel discussions on topics such as Industry 4.0 readiness in Asia Pacific, millennials and new workforce expectations, the future of education and jobs, and women in the new world of work.

Ernst & Young meanwhile has mobilised ahead of the forum with a barrage of thought leadership under the #BetterWorkingWorld banner, covering, among other things concerned with the harnessing of innovation, the changing role of the CEO in the current era of technological advance – with the Big Four firm coincidentally set to change its CEO in the very near future following the recent election of Carmine Di Sibio to replace Mark Weinberger in July. Both will be among the firm’s delegation to Davos, with inclusive growth, innovation and digital transformation high on the agenda.

The last of the Big Four, PwC, is also set to unveil its 22nd Annual Global CEO Survey in conjunction with the event, which takes the pulse of 1,378 CEO from 35 industries in more than 90 territories on near-future growth prospects and serves as a reliable indicator for the direction of the global economy in the year ahead. Such is the magnitude of the occasion that PwC Global Chairman Bob Moritz will be revealing the results in a live broadcast from Davos – with the early money on a bullish but cautious outlook among CEOs for 2019.

As to the strategy and management consulting contingent, the MBB – McKinsey & Company, Boston Consulting Group and Bain & Company – are like the Big Four all members and strategic partners of the WEF, as are A.T. Kearney, the Marsh & McLennan Companies (Mercer and Oliver Wyman) as well as world-leading IT consultancies Accenture, Infosys, IBM and Tata. All will be present at Davos this week with a team of global leaders. Why does BCG go to Davos?, BCG asks – “to learn, to connect, and contribute,” says BCG CEO Rich Lesser.