Asian cities as hubs of innovation

Jonathan Woetzel, director of the McKinsey Global Institute and senior partner in McKinsey’s Shanghai office, discusses the forces reshaping Asian cities and their place as hubs of innovation.

What are the top three most disruptive, powerful forces shaping Asia 10 years from now?

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People, money, and technology, are going to reshape Asian cities.

Asian cities are going to be bigger and they’re going to be vaster. They’re going to be richer. They’re going to have more consumptions and they’re going to be smarter. They’re going to be smarter in all kinds of services and infrastructure. And together, Asian cities will become the world’s most advanced, most prosperous, and smartest cities.

How should CEOs be responding to these forces as they think about their business strategies for the next decade?

CEOs need to realize that cities are where it’s at. That is the competitive battlefield, it’s the source of innovation. It’s the place where your companies will be made or broken. So first of all, they need to take cities seriously. That this is the most important, competitive opportunity and threat.

But it’s also an opportunity to learn. They can’t take it too seriously. They need to be able to experiment, to pilot, to innovate. They should use cities as opportunities for growth.

And finally, they should use cities as, ultimately, as their places where, not only do they work, but they live. So they need to think beyond the company, to the environment, and to the housing and to the whole set of services that make a city really a city.

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