"Better Business Can Transform Society"

Dean Jordi Canals at the XXIX Annual Meeting of IESE Partner Companies

11/05/2016 Madrid

Marta Martínez (IBM)

Marta Martínez (IBM): "Directors need to be able to leverage technology to lead our companies.” / Photo: Javier Arias

“Companies are a key tool in social transformation. And beyond generating business and wealth, they can – and should – have a lasting and positive influence on people and society.”

This was the message that the Dean of IESE, Jordi Canals stressed at the XXIX Annual Meeting of Partner Companies, Chairs and Research Centers celebrated recently at IESE Madrid.

Prof. Canals highlighted the importance of the 237 partner companies – 18 of whom were incorporated this year – whose support is vital in the drive to develop and finance projects at IESE. These include training for academics and professionals in emerging markets, the generation of ideas with impact, forging ties and connections in the academic arena, creating academic chairs and new centers of investigation and the development of new campuses.

“It is possible to transform society through better business,” Dean Canals told a capacity auditorium.

“A company is not just a business. Companies are about people, first and foremost, and about having the long-term vision.”

The real raison d’être of business is people, said Canals, and organizations should align their social mission and ethical values to a continuous pursuit of excellence in business. Something that in times of constant change is not easy to do.

“Technology has a tremendous impact in the economy and society. And directors need to be able to leverage technology to lead our companies,” said Marta Martínez, president of IBM Spain, Portugal, Greece and Israel.

Information, she said, is the fundamental pillar of 21st century.

Innovate, Innovate and Keep on Innovating

“The only way to keep your competitive edge in the long-term is to keep in a permanent innovation cycle. If you don’t, your probability of survival is low,” said president and CEO of General Electric Spain and Portugal, Daniel Carreño.

Time, such as the present, characterized by enormous uncertainty and volatility call for innovation – and its immediate implementation.

“The biggest threats do not come from our traditional competitors. They can come from anywhere in the world, at any time and when you least expect them,” warned Carreño.

Fernando Abril-Martorell, president of Indra, stressed that “technology and innovation” are key levers for competitiveness.

“Today’s global context throws business models into disarray.” And that, said Abril-Martorell, left no choice but to “rethink everything.”

Digital transformation has been fundamental, he said, pointing to the survival of printed press which is under threat from the rise of online publications; or WhatsApp which is threatening to undermine the $110,000n million SMS business.

“The digital transformation is not only the key to guarantee more competitive companies, but also to their survival,” said Abril-Martorell.