In case your invitation got lost in the mail, we want to make sure you’re aware the 54th Annual Meeting of The World Economic Forum at Davos is underway as of Monday and set to wrap up tomorrow, the 19th of January. Considered the hottest event of the year for conspiracy theorists’ favorite shape-shifting lizards, it’s an opportunity for the people who shape the world to get together and
figure out ways to fuck over the plebs talk shop. This year’s theme? “Rebuilding Trust.”
Believe it or not, Big 4 bigwigs get invites, too. To be there rubbing elbows with the movers and shakers they’ve got to be a member of the World Economic Forum (individual membership comes at the low, low price of $52,000, $263,000 if you want to be an “Industry Partner”) and shell out $19,000 for a ticket. That of course doesn’t include flight, lodging (starts at $500 a night for basic accommodation), and all the other stuff that comes with jet-setting to the Swiss Alps to attend Corporate Burning Man for a week.
For the eternally curious looking to get a peek behind the curtain at the levers being pulled by the wizards, Consultancy.eu helpfully wrote an article about the consulting firms attending this year and their agendas. It’s no big surprise generative AI is this year’s star.
This Big Four firm actually has its own venue in Davos – Deloitte Haus, which is set up as a place to “connect with leaders, speakers, and innovative solutions,” in their words. The firm is hosting events on issues such as “trust, sustainability and climate, AI, equity, purpose, and governance.”
The Deloitte delegation is headed by Global CEO Joseph Ucuzoglu, who is there accompanied by other top leaders at the firm. With AI taking center stage at the forum, Deloitte chose it as the perfect moment to unveil their large-scale survey of C-Suite attitudes towards AI.
“Deloitte Haus is your place to connect with leaders, speakers, and innovative solutions,” says the firm on it’s Davos page. Along with Joe U, the Deloitte delegates are Anna Marks, Stacy Janiak, Richard Houston, and Jason Girzadas. We’ll leave it to you to Google their titles if you want. Nice to see the Davos entourage has evolved from the sausage fest it was a decade ago.
For their part, KPMG is participating in this year’s Davos Forum by facilitating collaboration, encouraging public-private cooperation, and collaborating with others to devise solutions that contribute to a more sustainable future. The firm has focused on the energy transition, scaling renewables, and ESG strategies. AI – essentially a must at this point – is also on their agenda.
Here’s KPMG Chair and CEO Paul Knopp’s interview with Quartz on those topics and more should you care. A highlight of that interview:
Quartz: Is this going to become a key differentiator in the consulting space, how consulting companies can help clients with AI?
Knopp: My expectation is that we will be able to use AI to differentiate ourselves in the short term—with the recognition that our competition is really excellent, and that they have at their disposal the same software providers and technology companies from which we’re procuring. The first mover advantage could be very meaningful, but you also have to be ever cognizant of the fact that everybody else is moving, too, and we’re all trying to develop what I say is AI at scale.
I still think that the elements of the human touch, the culture of your organization, is going to be critically important with the way you deliver the products and solutions that are accompanied by generative AI. So number one is making sure your culture is one where your clients trust that you’ve done things with an ethical framework that allows what you’ve produced to be really impactful and can be trusted.
At Davos, PwC is engaging in dialogues with global leaders, focusing on critical issues like economic growth, AI, and climate strategies. Serving as a strategic partner to the World Economic Forum, PwC aims to contribute impactful, forward-looking solutions for sustainable inclusive growth.
In their presence at Davos, PwC is focusing on sustainability, diversity, digital trust, the global economy, and – yes, you guessed it – AI. The firm aims to contribute insights to key conversations shaping the world’s future.
PwC revealed the findings of their 27th Annual Global CEO Survey this year, saying “responses reveal that economic optimism among CEOs has more than doubled compared to 2023, yet almost half of CEOs do not believe their businesses will be viable in a decade as tech and climate pressures accelerate.” Fun.
Outgoing global chair Bob Moritz no doubt took many opportunities to inject PwC’s favorite keyword into the conversation, as in this quote: “Economic headwinds, geopolitical tensions, climate change and technological disruption present complex challenges for leaders around the world. As these trends bring to bear new uncertainties and opportunities, it has never been more important for the private and public sectors to collaborate to build trust and deliver sustained outcomes for people and the planet.”
As for EY’s participation in the WEF meeting, their India Chairperson Rajiv Memani has been making the rounds for his talk on interest rates and why he does not foresee them coming down as quickly as some expect. The firm also focuses quite a bit on AI (surprise, surprise), with a recent survey they released in anticipation of the Davos Forum finding that 70% of CEOs were uncertain about GenAI.
Interestingly, some of the buzz around EY at Davos has been related to comments about the possibility that the consulting giant could break up into a number of separate, smaller firms. Though the idea was tossed out last year, it was floated once again by Global Managing Partner Andy Baldwin in Davos.
“Floated” is generous. What he said was “Obviously the separation would have unlocked a lot more market growth potential. I don’t see us revisiting the sale of the consulting business in the short term.”
It doesn’t appear EY updated their Davos landing page for 2024, last year’s leaders were of course Carmine Di Sibio, Andy Baldwin, Marie-Laure Delarue, Julie Linn Teigland, and Julie Boland. Again, way to go with the female representation. Did Julie Boland get invited this year? We seem to recall there was some minor drama swirling around her last year.
We’ll leave you with this clip of Joe U on Squawk Box to chew on.
And this comment from that video for shits and gigs.