Location strategies are really becoming a key factor in how businesses can compete in the digital age. To better understand how cities can be both catalysts for and beneficiaries of innovation, we conducted in-depth interviews with five leading experts in the fields of urban design, development and architecture.
Our key findings from these interviews include:
- A centrally located headquarters isn’t always the best place for innovation: As organizations seek to spur innovation and attract needed talent, they’re collocating teams with start-ups and creativity hubs whose culture aligns with their goals. By sidling up to these outposts of innovation, they’re enabling the cross-pollination of ideas and work practices in a way that wouldn’t be possible inside “the mothership.”
- Don’t just collocate; integrate: Simply moving closer to clients, partners, employees and startups isn’t enough; workers need to actually interact with these stakeholders to gain the benefits of collocation. By establishing congregation areas outside of the office, city planners can encourage chance encounters and foster interpersonal communications among a wide swathe of workers in the environs.
- Culture wins: To turn these interactions into something meaningful to the business, organizations need to choose a location whose culture encourages a collaborative mindset and an agile way of working and partnering. We are seeing organizations base their location strategy more on desired culture than on industry assimilation. While some of this movement is being driven by the lower cost of living in these locales, the escape from a high-cost area can also radiate a new vibe that attracts a different type of worker and encourages experimentation with new business, employment, culture and work models.
- Smart cities are those that share data: Smart cities in and of themselves won’t drive innovation and collaboration; their data, however, can spur improvements in efficiency and productivity within the cityscape. To encourage this, cities need to open up their data to the private sector, which can then produce and sell smart city applications, enabling capabilities that elude most municipalities. The Nordic countries are in the forefront here; Helsinki was among the first cities to openly share its data, including procurement data, aerial photos and postal code areas. Finnish Tampere is another great example.
If you want to know more about formulating a location strategy that fosters innovation and collaboration, download the white paper below.