Business leaders from around the world will gather in Dubai this month to address some of the most pressing issues affecting commerce in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.
More than 1,000 participants from more than 100 countries are expected to attend the 12th World Chambers Congress.
How can the digital economy’s momentum be maintained in a world forever changed by the coronavirus? How can small and medium enterprises maintain their access to international markets while enhancing their environmental performance? And how can chambers of commerce around the world better support their members amid turbulent times?
These are some of the questions to be discussed by delegates at the event, which will run from November 23rd to 25th.
Organised by the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) and its World Chamber Federation (WCF), the congress will also champion innovation, capacity building, networking and the forging of international trade connections.
Greater collaboration and action to support businesses around the world is of paramount importance after Covid-19.
Speakers include the Deputy Director General of the World Trade Organisation, Anabel Gonzales. She will be talking at a session called “Chamber Movement: the power of collaboration.”
Most of the delegates at the congress will be heads of chambers of commerce from around the world.
There will be delegates from countries including the US, Russia, the UK, India, Australia, Ghana and Colombia. Sessions can be attended online, as well as in person.
One of the main aims of the congress will be to share ideas about how the ICC, which represents more than 45 million companies worldwide, can best serve its members in these unprecedented times.
“In the 1980s, members of Dubai Chamber were concerned with infrastructure and logistics,” says Hamad Buamim, president and chief executive of the Dubai Chamber of Commerce & Industry and chairman of the ICC-World Chambers Federation for the 2019-2021 period.
“In the 2000s, concerns related more to labour costs and cyber security, and today our focus is shifting to blockchain and the effects of the pandemic.
“Can we imagine the needs of members in 20, 40 years in the future? Probably not, but what we can do is to embrace tools, techniques and processes that will enable us to provide solutions to our customers."
With this in mind, delegates will discuss the Chambers Model Innovation (CMI), which is a framework for identifying stakeholder needs proactively and exploring ways to serve those needs in real time.
Adam Bock is an executive education instructor and coach at the Wisconsin School of Business. He will moderate a CMI workshop at the congress, where participants will learn how to generate new chamber models that can be transferred to their business.
Topics such as data management, the development of prototypes and a rethinking of internal resources will be explored with a view to enabling businesses to become more responsive to their customers’ needs.
“A key [lesson] from the pandemic is that truly disruptive change is possible,” says Dr Bock, who is also interim chief financial officer at gene therapy company Endsulin. “The regular use of Chamber Model Innovation can make a chamber more entrepreneurial, more adaptive and more resilient.”
Businesses need to explore new needs via observation of behaviour and rapid experimentation based on prototyping, not simply by crunching large-scale survey results, he said.
The theme of the congress is “Generation next: Chambers 4.0”, referring to the Fourth Industrial Revolution fuelled by digital advances.
Chambers can use technology to meet the emerging needs of the business community, said Dr Bock.
“A chamber can inspire independence in start-ups and in the entrepreneurial ecosystem the same way we do with our children,” he said.
“We give them encouragement and guidance, show them opportunities, provide a hand up when they fall down. And throughout we guide them to become self-supporting, productive and responsible members of the community.”
Dubai Chamber introduced the CMI approach to its operations in March last year. Since then, it has conducted five experiments and three pilot schemes, and expects to have up to 10 new services that its customers asked for by the end of next year, says Mr Buamim.
For example, Dubai Chamber has offices in Africa. However, there is a large network of businesses that are not members of the chamber.
Dubai Chamber wanted to explore the hypothesis that potential customers in Africa would be ready to pay for the “Grow your business with Dubai” package. So, it used the CMI model. This included asking potential customers to fill out a detailed survey, to qualify for an early bird discount.
The results of the survey helped Dubai Chamber to collect insights on topics including demographics, the perception of the chamber as a service provider and the things that customers are expected to pay for.
Dubai Chamber used this information to refine its approach and discard a number of ideas that it thought its customers needed, when in reality they did not. This saved time and employee effort.
Other tools to help to increase business precision will also be unveiled at the congress. For example, PricewaterhouseCoopers has developed a “Digital Fitness” app that allows businesses to complete a questionnaire to gauge the broad maturity of digital capabilities within their organisation.
The app will be showcased at a session where speakers, including Ted Souder, head of industry – retail at Google, will talk about how they have managed to make digital disruption work for their organisations.
The World Chambers Congress is held every two years. In 2018, Dubai Chamber played a crucial role in preparing Dubai’s winning bid to host the congress.
As the congress also falls during Expo 2020 Dubai, delegates will be taken on trip to the world’s fair, where they can experience the best of art, architecture, culture, science and more, available at 192 country pavilions.
For more information about the 12th World Chambers Congress (#12WCC) visit here.