Our cover headline, upon second thoughts, is probably redundant. The digital economy, increasingly, is just the economy. And never mind the page identifiers of our cover section that say ‘digital industries’: most industries these days are digital to some extent. We’ve also written about how to be a digital-first company, but it goes without saying that nearly every company is, or should be, digitised by now.
Much in the same way that it was once a mantra that no global company could afford to not have a China strategy, no company – global or not – can afford not to have a forward-thinking digital strategy. Likewise, no location can afford not to be digital-led in its economic development, investment promotion or even governance approach. A strategy that isn’t digital is no strategy at all.
So, we can all agree that every company, organisation and government should be digital-savvy, but there is a vast spectrum of savviness and success on this score. In our inaugural rankings of FDI attractiveness for digital industries and tech companies, the British Isles are gigabytes ahead of many other competing locations, with London leading the world in this league table and Dublin and Belfast also performing well. The Anglosphere in general outpaces much of the rest of the world in being geared towards digital investments: Canadian and US cities also rank well in the shortlists and North American cities top the FDI Strategy listing for their innovative tech-led promotion strategies. Elsewhere, Singapore – which seems to have never met a business or economic ranking it doesn’t shine in – outperforms New York and Silicon Valley even, coming in at number three globally, while Hong Kong and Tokyo make the top 10.
Continental Europe lags behind. The top ranked city is Amsterdam, ranked sixth globally, followed by Paris. This fits with a wider gap in how European investment locations promote themselves versus, say, American counterparts. US economic development agencies have been the first to adopt technology tools to promote themselves and engage with corporate site selectors; European cities are only now waking up to the full digital possibilities. Indeed, deploying technology as a promotional tool to attract companies and actually building local digital industries and attracting tech companies are not one in the same – but digital is as digital does, so it is a good a place to start as any.
Courtney Fingar is editor-in-chief of fDi Magazine. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org