World Economic Forum Annual Meeting 2011

  • Digital Convergence

    Wednesday 26th January 2011 - 3:15pm - 4:30pm

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  • Wednesday 26 January, 15.15 - 16.30

    What are the business innovations, end-user needs and policy frameworks shaping the next wave of digital convergence?


    The following dimensions will be addressed:

    - Digital innovation
    - Consumer empowerment
    - Enabling policies
    - Scaling socio-economic impact


    Key Points

    • Digital technology is transforming every human activity, from the workplace to the classroom, and from the farm to the home. Household objects, sidewalks and even architectural works have become canvasses on which digital technology now paints.
    • Convergence covers a lot of ground: the convergence of multiple devices (cameras, phonographs, televisions, telephones, telexes) into single devices like the modern smartphone; the convergence of offline and digital lives; and even the convergence of virtual and real worlds with augmented reality.
    • Digital innovation has wrought creative destruction to virtually every existing industry. The publishing industry, arguably hit hardest, has roared back to life with highly innovative apps for new converged devices like tablets.
    • “Social” is no longer just a nice-to-have feature: it has taken hold in application and user experience design. Small enterprises have realized that employees expect to manage the flow of information as they would on Facebook. Companies like Yammer, and products like Salesforce’s Chatter, have profited from this recognition.



    A conversation that began focused on devices and software swiftly morphed into one about human behaviour. As impressive as the new technologies are qua technologies, their true significance lies in the way they impact people. Digital convergence is profoundly changing the way that individuals, organizations, corporations and governments behave. Consumers have been empowered in a sense: Twitter has become a more effective customer service channel for ordinary consumers to get results from brands.

    But there is a dark side not to be ignored: Cognitive abilities are changing – whether for better or for worse – because of the abundant distractions of the Internet, so that raft of services designed to temporarily cut people off from the Web have grown popular, and necessary. Individuals’ lives are increasingly digitized, as they are streamed and stored on line through favourite services. But having everything in the cloud effectively means less privacy. The day may not be far off when there will be a “personal WikiLeaks”. Most people have difficulty even conceiving of the privacy issues consumers and companies will soon face.

    Companies are recognizing the good in another kind of “digital convergence”: that between designers and developers. The former need to have more technical acumen, while the latter need to have more respect for design, and companies are beginning to put them in the same room.

    In the new landscape transformed by social media, game companies have been quick to realize the fact that reputation and rank really matter. Leading enterprises are now eager to adopt gaming theory – a particularly interesting and unexpected piece of digital convergence.


    Claire Boonstra

    , Co-Founder, Layar, Netherlands; Technology Pioneer

    Masa Inakage

    , Dean and Professor, Graduate School of Media Design, Keio University, Japan; Media, Entertainment & Information Industry Agenda Council

    Loïc Le Meur

    , Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Seesmic, USA

    Rob Tarkoff

    , Senior Vice-President and General Manager, Digital Enterprise Solutions Business Unit, Adobe Systems, USA


    Moderated by

    David Kirkpatrick

    , Technology Columnist, Daily Beast, USA; Global Agenda Council on Internet Security



    This summary was prepared by Kaiser Kuo. The views expressed are those of certain participants in the discussion and do not necessarily reflect the views of all participants or of the World Economic Forum.

    Copyright 2011 World Economic Forum

    No part of this material may be copied, photocopied or duplicated in any form by any means or redistributed without the prior written consent of the World Economic Forum.

    Keywords: Convergence, digital technology, Facebook, SNS, Quora, Twitter, Foursquare, Yammer, Salesforce, Layar, Seesmic, augmented reality, WikiLeaks, iPad


  • Loïc Le Meur Loïc Le Meur
    Chief Executive Officer, LeWeb, USA

    Formerly, launched several start-ups, including: Seesmic, a social mobile software company; RapidSit...

  • Masa Inakage Masa Inakage
    Dean and Professor, Graduate School of Media Design, Keio University, Japan

    Master's in Film and Video; PhD in Media and Governance. Media designer, media artist, director and ...

  • Rob Tarkoff Rob Tarkoff

  • Claire Boonstra Claire Boonstra
    Founder, Operation Education, Netherlands

    MSc in Civil Engineering, TU Delft. Formerly with: KPN, Unilever, Talpa, Mobile Monday Amsterdam and...

Moderated by

  • David Kirkpatrick David Kirkpatrick
    Founder, Chief Executive Officer and Chief Techonomist, Techonomy Media, USA

    BA in English, Amherst College. Tech author and media entrepreneur. 1978, exhibited video art at MoM...