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CMS event in Davos

online platforms – a new business model

At the conference organised by CMS and German daily DIE ZEIT in Davos on 23 January, Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook Inc. and Christian Sewing, CEO of Deutsche Bank AG, talked about their commercial challenges and the importance of trust and transparency. Leading experts were also there to discuss the growing success of online platforms.

Importance of trust and transparency in a digital, online world

Sheryl Sandberg defended Facebook’s advertising business model, "We don’t sell data (...) What we do is use information to show relevant ads". Retrospectively, however, she acknowledged that "we haven’t done a good job of explaining our business model". She promised: "We’re committed to helping people better understand how their information is used."

Christian Sewing talked about his reaction to hearing about the Danske Bank money laundering scandal: "It’s disappointing, not for me personally – but you have 92,000 people working to restructure the bank every day. The regulators told us our controls have improved. So to have this kind of incident after that is disappointing". Asked about his response to the allegations, Sewing said "that is what you have to deal with, this is what leadership is all about. You ask questions of yourself. You cooperate with the prosecutors. We think there is no wrongdoing on our side".

Success of online platforms

At the event, leading experts debated the growing success of online platforms.

In his introductory remarks, Cornelius Brandi said: "Technological progress is without doubt a positive development. But we seem to have mixed feelings about the issue of online platforms – probably because they have had, and will continue to have, a considerable influence on human interactions."

During their discussion, the panellists agreed that commercial platforms generate significant value by facilitating transactions as intermediaries and stimulating innovation. However, platform businesses need to act responsibly, especially when it comes to data protection. The panellists also called for lawmakers to think globally, rather than locally, when regulating digital firms. Craig Dawson (Executive Partner, IBM Automation Platform Leader Europe), Olivier Grémillon (Vice President, Booking.com), Prof. Annabelle Gawer (Chaired Professor in Digital Economy, Surrey Business School; Director, Surrey Centre of Digital Economy) and Dóra Petrányi (Technology, Media and Communications Partner, CMS) all took part in the debate.

Talking about the future, Dóra Petrányi concluded: "Recent studies show that just 8% of businesses will be able to maintain their business model if digitization continues at this pace. Regulators around the world have the difficult task of finding the right balance between supporting innovation and letting other players participate in the transformation. We saw a good example in the recent incentives for co-investment in telecoms infrastructure in Europe."

To watch a recording of the discussions, click here.