The conference, often called "the Davos of IT," focused on innovation, especially as influenced by the open-innovation movement. The theme was "Shaping a Connected Digital Future: Visions, Challenges, Opportunities for Organizations and People in a Smart World."
The theme was given special emphasis from Global Forum's main French sponsors, the ITEMS International consulting firm, and the Foundation Sophia Antipolis, the first "smart community" and research science park, created in 1984.
Global Forum 2012's third lead sponsor was "INNOVA: The Swedish Governmental Agency for Innovation Systems," a 200-person R&D promotion group since 2001. Sweden is also the only country with an official "Digital Champion," Jan Gulliksen, whose purpose is to promote digital literacy and capacity-building across the population
A need for rational business incentives was repeated by several company speakers in the annual Global Forum policy panel, led by Andrew Lipman, head of the Telecom Group of the Washington, D.C. law firm of Bingham McCutchen.
Open Innovation an overriding theme
This year's Global Forum was driven by energetic discussion of innovation, reflecting Europe's lead in collaborative R&D theory, especially the "Open Innovation" movement.
Open innovation is a concept originally popularized through a seminal 2003 book by the American Henry Chesbrough, now a professor at Berkeley. The Europeans have militantly pursued the principle and built it into research policies and multilateral organizational funding.
Europe's Open Innovation Strategy and Policy Group (OISPG) summarizes the new movement in five parts: Networking; Collaboration; Corporate Entrepreneurship; Proactive Intellectual Property Management; and Research & Development for competitive advantage in the marketplace.
On the Global Forum's 2012 Open Innovation panel, Bror Salmelin updated the European Union's approach. He said, "We would like strongly to communicate a more modern view on open innovation. We need to go far beyond, towards crowdsourcing, co-creativity and collaborative open innovation ecosystems."
In an intriguing application of Maslow's hierarchy of human needs updated for future enterprises and organizations, Salmelin outlined a new hierarchy of organizational necessities, from "cost-savings" on the bottom, to "organizational agility" on the top, as follows:
" organizational agility
" innovation culture
" cross-organizational collaboration
" employee satisfaction
" customer satisfaction
" revenue generation
Successful organizations start with cost-savings at the foundation and drive up to organizational agility at the peak, with increasing impact on organizational success all the way up the scale. Each layer supports the one above, and the one above energizes the layer below.
Global Forum 2012 was led by Dr. Sylviane Toporkoff, president of Global Forum, and a founding partner of sponsor ITEMS International. She noted the next Global Forum will re-engage in fall 2013, at a European venue to be announced early next year.
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