Cities around the globe are positioning themselves to play host to the jobs and companies of the next age in business; some future hubs aren't even in physical space.
There's no shortage of reports on the future of work, the types of jobs that will exist in the post-COVID world and how digital technology is transforming jobs. Several of those reports have been written by IT services firm Cognizant, who has just released a new report that asks a different question: Where in the world will the future of work be located? Interestingly enough, not all of the locations it arrived at are physical places.
Using a variety of criteria, the report aimed at identifying places that Cognizant called "futuristic." Local government, quality of local education and private capital availability formed the core criteria. Additional criteria that carry slightly less weight include physical infrastructure, environment, lifestyle and diversity, culture, talent pools, cost of living and more.
One of the criteria that many chosen locations had, the report notes, is an anchor around one key technology or concept. The tech industry in Tel Aviv, for example, is largely focused on cybersecurity. In Nairobi, financial technology dominates; Atlanta draws strength from its diversity of talent and inclusive culture; and Dundee, Scotland, has become a hub for e-sports and the tech surrounding them.
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The full report is too long to dive into in detail here--it's 100 pages long and filled with information detailing why particular places were chosen. What follows are some of the most surprising and exciting locations that Cognizant featured.
Da Nang, Vietnam
Da Nang likely conjures up images of the Vietnam War for history buffs, when it played host to a massive military base and airfield used by the U.S. and South Vietnam. Since then, the city of Da Nang has managed to turn the once-military airfield into one of the biggest aviation hubs in Vietnam.
The city is predicted to become a major tech hub in coming years, with a low cost of living, rapid growth, a government-funded business incubator, a large marine logistics tech industry and a new information technology part expected to generate 25,000 new jobs. Da Nang has been a popular spot for digital nomads as well, making it a hotspot for international freelance talent.
Kochi, Kerala, India
As India's tech hub of Bangalore reaches its saturation point, the nation's tech industry is looking for new hubs to expand into, and Kochi is poised to be a big one. Like the cities in the U.S. that are beginning to supplant Silicon Valley, Kochi is forward-looking, with robust green tech investments, human-focused growth metrics like literacy rate and life expectancy in place of GDP to drive its growth and a new special economic zone designed to retain local talent and attract outside investments.
Kerala is also architecturally stunning, the report said, making it appear like a scaled-down version of Bali with "a beautiful mix of Portuguese, British and Indian architecture, as well as temples, mosques and churches."
Already a growing hotspot for African tech entrepreneurs, Nairobi currently plays host to over 144 tech startups and is attracting Kenyan talent from all over the country. A booming middle class is attracting additional businesses and investment, and the report said the talent pool in Nairobi is massive and willing to innovate.
It may be no surprise given the proliferation of remote work during COVID-19 and predictions that it's a new normal in the business world, but Cognizant officially included the remote work world as one of its 21 places of the future.
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"The future of work is increasingly accessible from anywhere with internet connectivity and enterprise communication apps like Slack or Microsoft Teams. The COVID-19 pandemic turned this from a futuristic possibility in the margins to a present reality of the majority," the report said.
Cognizant said people have reported being happier working from home, and warns that companies lagging behind on remote work policies run the risk of losing talent to other, more flexible organizations. Remote work reduces costs for employers and employees, and we finally have the tech to make it practical, meaning it's possible future businesses won't have physical locations at all.
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