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 three US cities were surveyed, with confidence amongst San Francisco-based executives higher than those in Chicago and New York. San Francisco ranks second for its overall environment, followed by New York (11th) and Chicago (15th).
While San Francisco is the top performing US city across all categories, executives believe they are let down by the ICT infrastructure in each of the three cities. More than 60 per cent in San Francisco and New York state their city’s infrastructure is ineffective at meeting their business needs, a percentage that is higher in Chicago.
Cardi Prinzi, Telstra’s Senior Vice President Americas, 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 organization’s digital success than national policies,” said Mr Prinzi.
Key findings from the research include:
- The biggest transformation difficulty for Chicago-based businesses is internal resistance to change (20 per cent cite this reason). This compares with external resource limitations in the other two cities – 40 per cent cite limited funding for investment in San Francisco, and 28 per cent believe a shortage of talent in New York is their biggest challenge.
- Seventy-three per cent of respondents in San Francisco and 61 per cent in New York rate their educational institutions as effective at preparing people with the required digital skills. However, there is a general belief that supply cannot keep up with growth in demand.
- Two-thirds of executives in San Francisco and Chicago, and 57 per cent in New York believe there is a divide between city and federal governments when it comes to supporting innovation.
- The availability of open government data provided by city departments is important to 72 per cent of businesses in New York and 66 per cent in San Francisco. New business opportunities are cited as the top benefit gained from this data.
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 organization’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 Prinzi.
The full report, including the Digital Cities Barometer, can be found at http://connectedfuture.economist.com/.