Mathias Keller
Mathias Keller
London Business School MBA student, class of 2019, Accenture Strategy intern and attendee at WEF Davos 2018
January 18, 2018

Technology: The Bridge Between Business and Politics?

In my previous job as a German diplomat in Bangladesh and Afghanistan, I frequently witnessed delicate negotiations between politicians and business leaders. I was often surprised that—while both sides were certainly well-intentioned—the parties could seldom agree on a joint strategy. It took me some time to understand the reasons behind this fundamental disconnect: The public and private sectors exist in the same context, but often lack the capabilities of describing analysis and strategy in a mutually understandable way.

While politicians make decisions based on political implications and popular support, thinking in four- or five-year election cycles, CEOs try to create value for shareholders and customers, maximizing profit. There is a fundamental difference in thought processes, mindsets and paradigms, making cooperation between governments and businesses an ongoing challenge. One reason why I embarked upon my MBA journey at the London Business School was to become a bridge-builder between the public and private sector, merging my knowledge of government with a deep understanding of the business world.

With the World Economic Forum (WEF) just days away, business leaders and politicians are flocking to Davos, Switzerland to gather in front of the picturesque Alps-panorama in order to exchange ideas and visions. Thanks to my internship with Accenture Strategy, I will have the privilege to travel to Davos to witness the WEF firsthand. Reflecting on my past few months at Accenture Strategy, working on a circular economy project, I came to the conclusion that technology might be the lingua franca (or common language) that both politicians and business leaders understand, the shared belief set that might facilitate communication between the public and the private sector.

While both governments and businesses are still in the process of fully comprehending the disruptive impact of the latest technological developments, such as artificial intelligence, distributed ledgers and the internet of things, both parties acknowledge the importance of technological advances for the future of humanity. Technology also allows government officials as well as CEOs to focus on the long-term, instead of only focusing on the next elections or quarterly earnings.

One example for the long-term implications of technology is the circular economy—the notion that instead of a linear economic model in which we exploit resources, produce and use goods, and then throw them away, we can shift our economic model toward a steady circle of production, consumption and recycling. During my internship at Accenture Strategy, I had the opportunity to contribute to the preparations of the annual WEF Circulars Award, in which outstanding business and public-sector organizations are honored for their efforts to promote the circular economy. I was surprised to witness the conversations between politicians and business leaders in the runup to the awards, discussing the ramifications of technology on the circular economy. It seemed like representatives from both the private and the public sector had finally found a common language, weighing the pros and cons of new circular business models and evaluating the impact on society.

I am anticipating the fruitful exchange between the public and private sector in Davos and am curious to see how technology can play an intermediary role in uniting divergent perspectives, fostering a common future agenda.

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