The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) has released a global research project commissioned by Telstra, a leading telecommunications and technology company, which assesses the confidence of business executives in their city’s environment and its conduciveness to supporting the digital ambitions of companies.
The ‘Connecting Commerce’ report includes the first ever Digital Cities Barometer, a ranking of 45 cities around the world across five key categories relevant to business performance: innovation and entrepreneurship; the financial environment; people and skills; development of new technologies; and ICT infrastructure. Executives in 17 European and British cities were surveyed, with confidence levels amongst London- and Madrid-based executives some of the highest in the world.
Tom Homer, Telstra’s Managing Director for EMEA, said the report makes an important contribution to exploring what support executives need to digitally transform their business and thrive in a connected world.
“Digital transformation can be a long and complex process. In most cases, existing internal resources will not be enough and businesses will need to look outside for additional support. Businesses will find most of that support in the city or cities where they operate, with the majority of business executives surveyed believing that when it comes to government policies, those implemented by local government have more influence on their organisation’s digital success than national policies,” said Mr Homer.
“Essentially, the environment in which a business operates has a direct impact on whether it can successfully transform. Overall, 48 per cent of executives surveyed said their firm had considered relocating their operations to a city with a more favourable external environment. This is something governments need to be mindful of as European cities actively compete for business, technology talent and funding.”
Another topical point for the European market is the sentiment from survey respondents on the issue of access to government data. The majority of executives believe open data is important for their business, particularly when it comes to improving services for their customers and developing new lines of business. The research findings show Europe is ahead of other markets when it comes to leveraging this data. However, the introduction of the European Union General Data Protection Regulation in May 2018 will have implications for how governments and businesses handle people’s data.
Key findings from the research include:
- Executives in London and Madrid are some of the most confident in the world in their city’s ability to support their digital ambitions, ranking ninth and 10th respectively.
- Confidence in the overall environment was lowest in Berlin, which ranks 45th overall. The city also ranked 45th for innovation and entrepreneurship despite the city’s vibrant start-up ecosystem.
- Forty-eight per cent of all respondents believe their city’s ICT infrastructure is ineffective for their transformation needs.
- Executives in Rome have limited confidence in their city’s overall environment (35th), compared with those in Milan (24th), where confidence is substantially higher than Italy’s capital across all categories except ICT infrastructure.
- There were mixed results for European cities on the Barometer when it comes to overall confidence in the environment. Following London and Madrid, ranking for the other cities were: Barcelona (12th), Copenhagen (16th), Paris (20th), Oslo (21st), Milan (24th), Brussels (25th), Antwerp (28th), Amsterdam (29th), Marseilles (30th), Stockholm (31st), Birmingham (32nd), Rome (35th), Frankfurt (36th) and Rotterdam (41st).
Overall, the report found that business leaders are relatively confident that their city environments can provide the support they need to meet their digital ambitions.
“Many agreed that an organisation’s city is intrinsically linked to the success of its digital transformation, with firms willing to move to another city to get it right and 75 per cent of respondents believing factors in the external environment are just as important as their internal capabilities in determining their transformation success,” said Mr Homer.
The full report, including the Digital Cities Barometer, can be found at http://connectedfuture.economist.com/.