• Jonathan Lavender, Partner |

This year’s Collision conference1 was held virtually. Though everyone was online for three consecutive days, the digital format in no way diminished the energy, enthusiasm and spark of ideas that were shared. Hundreds of topics were covered, ranging all the way from Peter Thiel’s classic talk on the next level of civilization, to how 5G will accelerate the fourth industrial revolution, and the promise of a new era of entrepreneurship.

For every topic, there was new learning and many innovative ideas to consider. I’m pleased to be able to share several themes and insights from the conference with you in this first of two blog posts regarding the new reality that has emerged.

Could uncertainty be the new reality?

The conference reinforced what most of us are already feeling: life and business may never return to the way we were before COVID-19. Though we may be uncertain about what the future holds, we do know that we will need to continue to adapt and innovate to stay ahead of the waves of change we’re likely to encounter.

Without question, COVID-19 has disrupted world economies and created uncertainty about its economic impact.

In a recently released KPMG Global Economic Outlook, two scenarios were developed. The central scenario is optimistic, assuming  that the world health crisis peaks for most countries in the second quarter of 2020 with the world economy starting to recover from the third quarter onwards. The second scenario is more pessimistic based on the virus re-emerging in most economies, making it necessary for countries to institute additional lockdown measures into the third quarter of 2020, and further slowing the path to recovery.

The critical and urgent need for leadership

With this level of uncertainty, either paralysis or opportunity can follow. Rarely has the need for strong and inspiring leadership been more urgent amid such unpredictability. As Patrik Frisk, CEO of Under Armour and one of the conference presenters described it, everything has accelerated in mere months, and forward-thinking leaders are needed more than ever to address the impact of the changes that lie ahead.

John Chambers, Founder and CEO of J2 Ventures, added this sage advice to leaders on the subject: have the courage to paint a picture of how you want to get through the challenges ahead and find success in the future. Don’t ignore the fact that a downturn usually eliminates many competitors. This is when the next generation of great companies is formed if leaders are paying attention. The best technology companies of the future are likely being created today as an outcome of this pandemic.

I couldn’t agree more with John’s perspective. I believe that courageous leadership and the agility and resilience of entrepreneurs and other private enterprises will lead to businesses innovations that sustain their success and their nation’s economies. Right now, the next generation of great private enterprises is emerging among companies that have the foresight and agility to uncover the opportunities that may be lying just below the surface.

To explore these opportunities further, I will be pleased to share additional insights from the conference regarding hyper-accelerated change and the impact of the new-reality consumer in my next blog post, “Hyper acceleration in the new reality”. 

We at KPMG Private Enterprise have always believed in the tremendous possibilities for entrepreneurs and emerging growth companies. As a longstanding strategic sponsor of the Collision conference, Web Summit (Lisbon) and RISE (Hong Kong), we welcome every opportunity to listen to and learn from founders, entrepreneurs, and CEOs and to share our own insights.

Collision from Home was another of these tremendous opportunities, and I’d personally like to thank all the participants who contributed so many varied and valuable experiences and knowledge.

I encourage you to follow our regular KPMG Private Enterprise series of blog posts as we share insights from across KPMG member firms on the impact that COVID-19 may have on your business strategy and operations, and how to embrace the new reality of a post COVID-19 world.


1 Collision Conference 2020: https://collisionconf.com/

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