Jim, you saw a strong focus on how technology benefits humanity at Davos. What would you add?
Jim: I attended a session at which Zanny Minton Beddoes of The Economist made the point that technology is responsible for driving nearly all of the improvements in the human condition. It was a reminder to me that technology, when used for good, can make unparalleled progress regardless of business or region. Technology’s value is democratized in that it improves the overall state of being as part of today’s society.
And to go back to what Ashley was saying about skills, I’d echo that it was a big topic of conversation. We convened a breakfast at Davos with leaders from other companies and the government sector. The work that’s being done around skills—understanding what skills exist, how to identify the ones that are most in demand, and how to ensure people have access to opportunities to upskill or reskill—is one that we can work together on. Technologies like artificial intelligence that are disrupting the labor market today will also provide the tools that enable workers to navigate the changing world of work.
You also saw a strong focus on data and AI ethics. What struck you in how the conversation is evolving?
Jim: I think it goes back in part to the notion of how we continue to deploy technology in ways that are beneficial and inclusive. For example, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella used the term “data dignity” at Davos, explaining, “data dignity goes one step further than privacy. Because data that you contribute to the world has got utility—utility for you, utility for the business that may be giving you a service in return, and the world at large.”
It really resonated with me, especially given Workday’s focus to put customers at the center of what we do, including our privacy principles. Last year, we published a set of principles guiding how we deploy AI. And our Chief Privacy Officer Barbara Cosgrove contributed a blog to the World Economic Forum to help shape the broader conversation about AI and ML. It’s clear that the public sentiment around data privacy and how technology is used is shifting, which we are glad to see given our values and the way we think about these issues.
Leighanne, back to you for the final word. Why was it important for Workday to be at Davos?
Leighanne: The WEF in Davos offers a unique environment, and allows so many opportunities for Workday to engage in discussions with the goal of finding solutions to make change happen at scale. Whether they were formal, moderated conversations or informal catch-ups, it was inspiring to see key players from business, politics, academia, and NGOs come together to dialogue about the most vexing issues impacting our global economy.
It is important for Workday to be part of these discussions, and directly relates to our values and our purpose. We want our brand to reflect our social purpose and our deep commitment to making progress on the big challenges our world is facing, including sustainability, equality, reskilling, and privacy. Our stakeholders want to know how we are using our technology, the ingenuity of our Workmates, and our global reach to make a dent in this world.