Cities in developed world are less confident in their digital ecosystems

According to a new study from The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU), business leaders in 45 cities around the world are relatively confident that they can find the support they need for their digital transformation efforts. Many city environments come up short, however, particularly in the supply of digital talent. The study claims that firms in Bangalore, San Francisco and Mumbai display the greatest degree of confidence while executives in developed world cities are some of the least confident, including those in Berlin, Tokyo and Yokohama. The study also claims that half of businesses (48 percent) have considered relocating operations to a city with a more favourable environment.

In Connecting commerce: Business confidence in the digital environment, commissioned by Telstra the telecommunications and technology company, business confidence in the local environment is particularly high in emerging market cities, which account for seven of the 10 highest readings in the Digital Cities Barometer, part of the report. The latter is derived from a survey of over 2,600 executives conducted across cities in Asia-Pacific, North America and EMEA.

Aside from talent and open data, other vital elements of the digital transformation environment include sources of financing, support structures such as accelerators and innovation labs, local development of new technologies, and ICT infrastructure. Should these fail to meet companies’ needs, many will move elsewhere. Nearly half (48 percent) of surveyed firms—and 53 percent in Asian cities —have considered relocating in the past three years to find a more conducive environment.

Digital ecosystems can thrive without the municipal government playing a proactive role, as suggested by the barometer readings in Indian cities. Well-targeted initiatives in areas such as data-sharing, however, can provide a significant boost to companies’ own digital projects. According to 54 percent of respondents, however, their city government makes poor use of the data it collects. That figure is highest in Asia’s cities.