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The new digital context, according to the WEF

How are regulatory, behavioural and technological changes transforming the digital landscape?

The new digital context panel at the World Economic Forum. Picture: Screengrab Weforum.org

JOHANNESBURG -"In short what you're going to see is every company, every country, every citizen, every home, every car, every wearable item become digital," says Cisco Systems chief executive John Chambers.

Chambers was speaking during a panel discussion entitled The New Digital Context at the World Economic Forum.

Thousands of leaders from several spheres, including business, government and academia have converged on the small town of Davos in Switzerland for the next few days.

The panel discussion featured individuals considered juggernauts in the different fields to explore the theme, and the discussion was facilitated by founder and chief executive of Vista Equity Partners Robert F Smith.

The panel also featured Pierre Nanterme chairman and chief executive of Accenture, Computer scientist and internet entrepreneur most known as one of the co-founders of PayPal and Vice-Chancellor of Northeastern University Liu Jiren.

In Smith's opening address, he spoke about the way in which technology has influenced and transformed the way in which business and industry has been transformed.

"If you don't transform, your industry will be transformed. We're living in a world where the largest taxi company in the world doesn't own a vehicle. The largest book seller doesn't actually have a bookshelf."

Speaking about innovation and disruption Chambers made reference to what the internet's influence on society in the 90's and said that the effect of the new digital context would multiply that by 5 to tenfold.

Chamber's said the new digital context is about fast innovation in the new world. He says that if you don't innovate fast, disrupt your industry, disrupt yourself, you get left behind.

"Think digital first, think internet of everything with all the market transition of cloud and security and everything underneath that and mobility and then think fast innovation enabled by fast ideas."

Nanterme spoke about five big questions facing businesses in the digital context. One of the big ones that he brought up was skills, and he emphasised big data and the need for scientists to help drive algorithms of the future and to seek out a new generation of skills that would probably have to be built around universities.