World Economic Forum Doubles Messaging

Engagement with Layer and Real-Time Translation

Purpose and Mission

The World Economic Forum “engages the foremost political, business and other leaders of society to shape global, regional and industry agendas.” As a 40+ year tradition, WEF aims to improve the state of the world by offering a platform to promote moral and intellectual integrity across public and private sectors around the world.

Meeting Explanation

WEF has succeeded in mediating economic, social, and religious issues for years. Now in 2017, the fast-paced and interconnected world demands more communication between global leaders than ever. Having China’s head of state attend the 2017 WEF was a major step forward for advancing global discourse at a time when breakthrough technologies are impacting every aspect of society.

  • Event

    The societal and economic consequences of technology innovation, demographic shifts, and political transformations.

  • Size of Event

    3,000 participants, 100 countries

  • Location

    Davos-Klosters, Switzerland

  • Total Official Sessions


  • Website


Gathering global figures for a physical event introduces, at least to some degree, natural friction in communication.

The smartphone has become the common digital platform. So it only made sense for Layer and Microsoft to collaborate and drive the WEF mission forward with real-time messaging translation that matched best-in-class app performance.

Language has been the driving force behind WEF for over 40 years and eliminating any friction in the experience will only boost international communication.

The improved messaging experience and translation capabilities increased the number of sent messages 100% compared to 2016’s app.

Real-time messaging and in-line translation drives global discourse

Connecting 3,000 leaders from 100 different countries at the World Economic Forum has always come with a need for frictionless communication. This year, Microsoft, Layer and WEF partnered to build a messaging experience complete with high-quality, in-line translations to address these challenges and help our attendees connect, communicate, and schedule meetings with each other much easier. With such a seamless experience, it’s no surprise that twice as many messages were sent through the app in 2017 compared to 2016.

Romain Dorange

Product Management / World Economic Forum

Top challenges

“Our responsibility is to have the AI augment the human ingenuity and augment the human opportunity. I think that’s the opportunity in front of us and that’s what we have got to go work on.”

Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft

As a technological breakthrough, artificial intelligence will be critical for breathing life into stagnant global economic growth. The scaled intelligence that comes with AI is far greater than any human process can achieve.

However, AI will not replace human processes—it will just require humans to adapt to do jobs that computers can’t. The problem is that AI requires an interface for humans to make use of the intelligence gathering. If the user experience isn’t seamless, valuable insights will fall through the cracks.

Davos attendees look to fill their events by communicating with international colleagues, scheduling meetings with business leaders, forming lasting connections and sharing memories. To continue improving the overall event experience, there was a need to blend a powerful intelligence platform with a user experience that prompts more messages to be sent and received.

The fix

Layer and Microsoft collaborated to pair an AI-powered backend with a seamless messaging interface and platform to significantly increase the number of messages exchanged at Davos.

By integrating the Microsoft Translator API, Layer developers could create in-line translation capabilities. The AI-powered translator and seamless messaging experience made it easier for attendees to connect and schedule meetings by making communications as smooth as possible.

The translation experience

  • Group Discussion:

    Coordinate meetings with multiple attendees regardless of how many native languages there are within the group.

  • Schedule Meetings:

    Integration with smartphone calendars and the WEF agenda makes it easier to schedule meetings with any attendee.

  • Locate Each Other:

    Leverage the smartphone’s GPS capabilities to make sure attendees are always on the same page with meeting locations.

  • Share Memories:

    Easily post photos, videos and more within the messaging experience to strengthen attendee engagement.

The result

“Because we were able to combine Microsoft’s powerful backend translation capabilities with the Layer messaging platform, world leaders could communicate in any language they chose. That level of customization is what led to double the number of messages sent on our app compared to the 2016 experience.”

This isn’t the first year that WEF included a messaging experience for the global event. But when the innovative technology doesn’t truly engage with users, it’s hard to drive adoption.

Messaging is the new universal communication channel, but a frictionless user experience is the key to adoption. When the interface is as innovative as the underlying technology, the messaging experience can drive business success.

Looking ahead

Integrating translation technology into a messaging experience is a clear need for a global event like WEF. But real-time translation won’t be limited to the WEF use case.

Moving forward, real-time translation will become a fundamental feature in Layer to help global enterprises improve engagement between offices and customers. When the communication experience is unhindered, businesses can improve relationships and truly differentiate themselves based on customer experience.

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