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No longer the digital economy, it's just the economy and it includes cities

Today in #Hangzhou, in my role as co-Chair of the ABAC Digital & Innovation Working Group, I presented on a study I led together with my colleague Stephanie Honey, conducted across all 21 APEC nations, that identified a digital capability as the biggest multiplier for kick-starting the growth cycles of SME’s.

The report looked at how to enable SMEs, especially women-led SMEs, in domestic trade and global value chains.

The research found that those digitally enabled small businesses:

• had twice the growth of non-digital SMEs

• enjoyed an 82% reduction in export costs

• had 86% savings in market entry costs

• and that digital was potentially a powerful enabler for women

All this got me thinking about smart cities, connectivity and my vision for Tauranga. Part of my vision includes a regionally, nationally and globally connected city. A bold, smart city that embraces partnerships, respects and connects our people through the generations.

The residents of Tauranga are frequently identifying inefficiencies in local government decision making and its provision of services. In the private sector, many companies have embraced human-centred design thinking, a process we adopted on the Small Business Council as we looked at how government can better support New Zealand’s SME economy.

Design thinking is a collaborative process that puts the user at the center of the design, rather than designers working in isolation from the very people who will be most affected. I’m thinking of the many failed projects in Tauranga that would have benefited from simply listening to residents, many of whom have vast knowledge.

If residents are engaged when trying to solve our biggest challenges, we are likely to see more creative solutions that positively impact our lives for the better.

It’s all about engagement, listening - and it’s about respect.

As for being digitally enabled and its impact on cities, we have moved past the digital economy as a seperate entity, it’s now just the economy and it most certainly includes cities and residents.

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