Is economic development really ready to rock?

Judith Walker | 11 Oct 2016 | UK and Ireland Perspective



The OCO Global team had a busy few days at IEDC in Cleveland, Ohio, with our US economic development colleagues. This annual event provides a great opportunity to step back and assess what we’re doing well, learn from colleagues and evaluate what’s new in our world.

In a city famous for its Rock n Roll Museum, it was less heart stopping guitar riffs and more of a gentle strum for me. Nods of empathy at shared problems rather than productive discussions on change.  A quick check of the emails and attention deficit from the carefully crafted presentations of the panel members. We’re all guilty of it!

No industry remains immune from change and the economic development business, like every other B2B activity, will increasingly be shaped by technology and the changing demographic and characteristics of corporate decision makers. There are fundamental political changes too – with protectionism high on the rhetoric and anti-globalisation vibes in line with anti-establishment sentiment.

Some aspects are clearly outside our control but I’m not sure we’re moving fast enough to respond to these changing market dynamics.  We can harness technology and leverage it to better effect for sure. The number of software exhibitors at IEDC demonstrated that more and more solutions are coming onto the market, OCO Global has Velociti that is already being used by many EDOs to shortcut investment identification.

Intelligence is power. Intelligence as distinct to data and information which is available and everywhere. Intelligence is formed by an overlay on the data – the magic algorithm to make sense of it all. Traditionally the gatekeepers in our business, such as site selectors, held access to relationships and importantly, intelligence on the options.  Intelligence developed from tacit knowledge, over a long period of time, making individuals unique resources.  As our software solutions become more advanced and we enhance the intelligence aspects through predictive analytics and machine learning, we are going to see some key fundamental changes to how companies use our EDO , site selector and consultant resources and guidance.  OCO Global is already scoring companies based on their propensity to invest in a certain region.  The next step is to invert that model and provide automated scores on locations – we often forget the evaluation process is two-way.

Oh, but “it’s all about the relationship, stupid.” I hear you intone. I tend to agree. For now. But Millennials are different animals from Baby Boomers and will take intelligence in its easiest and most accessible form – a technology platform from a trusted source.  The ability to form relationships and positively influence will get more tricky if the algorithm doesn’t validate your location.

Time to find your inner rock star………

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