Fall/Winter | 2020
Dear readers,

As we head into 2021, we see the end of the COVID-19 pandemic in sight. It has been a massive disruptive force, generating social and economic impacts far greater than we could have imagined. But the crisis has also been a catalyst for change. It is accelerating the reliance on smart innovation and e-commerce, transforming citizen behaviors and expectations, and redefining how people work and live. We expect the health crisis to have lasting effects on society, business, consumers, and cities, pushing us all closer to a digital-first world and the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

To help businesses, governments, and others understand these changes, ESI ThoughtLab is working on these evidence-based research projects:

Smart City Solutions for a Riskier World. Supported by leading corporate sponsors, as well as government organizations, this ground-breaking study explores how 167 cities around the world are using smart solutions to drive resilience, sustainability, and citizen well-being as they emerge from the pandemic. Our research is guided by the UN's Sustainable Development Goals, as well as our own economic analysis. Our new microsite dedicated to this program gathers our research, in addition to original content focused on smart city solutions. Some preliminary findings are highlighted below and more will be released in the first quarter of 2021.

Wealth and Asset Management 4.0: How digital, social, and economic trends will transform the investment industry. We will soon launch this new multi-client project, which is still open to sponsors. Based on a survey of 2,500 investors and 500 wealth management service providers, this rigorous study will examine how COVID-19 is irrevocably changing investor behaviors and expectations, and how investment firms are rethinking their products and services, value propositions, and go-to market strategies in response.

2021 will be a year of change for thought leadership. As the COVID-19 pandemic accelerates Industry 4.0, business leaders will need visionary thinking and insights to help maintain their profits and competitiveness. Our thought leadership agenda will cover many post-pandemic trends: how customers are resetting their digital expectations, the future of work, how disruption will remain constant in our interconnected world, the future for a more inclusive capitalism, how next-gen technologies are transforming business, and many other themes.

If you would like to learn more about these studies, or discuss ones that you are planning, please contact me, Barry Rutizer, Corporate Director and Vice President of Client Relationships, or Michael Geach, Director of Business Development.
Lou Celi,
Chief Executive Officer
ESI ThoughtLab
Michael Geach Joins as Director of Business Development
ESI ThoughtLab is pleased to announce that Michael Geach has joined as Director of Business Development. Michael is a thought leadership professional with many years of experience working with top media brands including the FT, the Economist, CNBC, and the International Herald Tribune. He specializes in building strategic thought leadership programs directly with public- and private-sector organizations, as well as collaborating with PR and advertising firms.

Please contact Michael today to discuss your 2021 thought leadership initiatives.
ESI ThoughtLab Examines the Future of Wealth and Asset Management
The pandemic's wil accelerate and heighten the disruptive impact of digital, social, economic, demographic, and regulatory shifts already in motion. As a result, the timeframe for the transformation of the wealth industry has been fast forwarded to the next few years. Wealth management firms will need to understand what these cataclysmic changes mean for their businesses and what steps they will need to take to ensure their place in the post-pandemic financial marketplace.

Wealth and Asset Management 4.0: How digital, social, and economic trends will transform the investment industry will build on prior research performed by ESI ThoughtLab by analyzing how the pandemic will permanently change the wealth management industry. Sponsors currently committed to this program include Deloitte, FIS, and eToro. For more information on how you can join this in-depth research initiative, please contact Barry Rutizer or Michael Geach today.
Cutting-edge insights through economics
ESI ThoughtLab Announces Preliminary Findings for
Smart City Solutions for a Riskier World
We are pleased to share some initial findings of our survey of 167 cities in 82 countries, home to over 568 million residents. We examined the impact of the pandemic on these cities and their progress against the UN's Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Here are some exciting takeaways:

  • Eighty percent of city leaders surveyed said that COVID was the biggest external disruption facing their city. It was followed by decline in economic growth (47%), rising digital expectations of citizens (29%), and climate change (24%), among others.
  • Over a quarter of city leaders said that the health crisis heightened the imperative to achieve the SDGs. It also highlighted the importance of smart city programs, showing leaders that smart technology could be an essential tool to guarantee social distancing, remote working, and affordable connectivity.
  • The pandemic will have lasting impacts. Nearly 70% of respondents said it would cause cities to rethink urban planning and use of space. More than half said they would rethink mobility and transportation; that the pandemic would accelerate online healthcare; and that it would permanently change the way people live and work.
  • Cities have made the most progress on the SDGs in basic areas around people and prosperity: no poverty, decent work and economic growth, quality education, and good health and well-being. Seventy-eight percent have adopted the SDG framework as part of their plans.
  • To achieve their social, environmental, and economic goals, cities are adopting an array of smart technologies, with the largest investments in cloud (87%), IoT (81%), biometrics (72%), and AI (66%).
  • Cities will face headwinds in making more progress over the next three years. About half believe complex policies, as well as difficulty in finding the right partner or supplier, will bog down their SDG efforts. Other impediments include data security and privacy, the fast pace of technological change, and the need to provide basic services, a particular challenge during the pandemic.

For more details about the findings from the study, keep an eye on our Smart City Solutions microsite, where we will be releasing additional results over the coming months.
Complete Access to the Hyperconnected City Data Navigator Now Available
This comprehensive tool allows users to explore rankings, profiles, strategies, and performance benchmarks of 100 hyperconnected cities. See how these cities use data analytics and technology to transform and interconnect key areas across their urban ecosystems, from mobility, energy, water, and sustainability to public safety, healthcare, payment systems, and cybersecurity.

The Hyperconnected City Data Navigator stems from our 2019 study, Building a Hyperconnected City, which examined how cities compare across key urban dimensions, The rankings not only measure the progress cities are making in using technology and data, but also their effectiveness in keeping systems secure and citizens connected.
Full Findings Publicly Available for Driving ROI Through AI
ESI ThoughtLab led a group of industry experts including Appen, Cognizant, Cortex, Dataiku, DataRobot, Deloitte, and Publicis Sapient in conducting one of the most comprehensive surveys on AI adoption and planning. This in-depth research examines what 1,200 organizations across a wide cross-section of industries and world markets are doing and provides executives with an evidence-based roadmap for supercharging their business performance through artificial intelligence and winning in the Fourth Industrial Revolution.
The Cognizant Jobs of the Future Index explores trends and patterns of 50 jobs. Supported by economic research performed by ESI ThoughtLab, the index answers key questions like:

  • Which jobs, in which industries, are growing faster than others?
  • Which jobs are shrinking or shifting to other occupations or overseas?
  • Are job market geographic patterns emerging?
Jobs of the Future Index posts quarterly decline as COVID-19 continues to disrupt the nation's labor market
COVID-19 continues to wreak havoc with "business as usual". Worries around resurgence continue to cast a cloud of economic uncertainty. The pandemic has had a severe impact on the index. According to a recent Cognizant pulse survey of 500 senior executives, 54% faced major reductions in corporate budget during the pandemic and an equal percentage shifted their investment away from growth strategy to business continuity.
Workflow Quarterly: The Platform Issue
ServiceNow partnered with ESI ThoughtLab to uncover what organizations achieve by digitizing workflows on an enterprise-wide platform and how they do it. ServiceNow and ESI ThoughtLab's research indicates that organizations in the strongest position are those that have digitized workflows on a single enterprise platform.

ESI ThoughtLab created a maturity model based on a survey of 600 C-level executives to examine the progress organizations are making in platform technology and the benefits they are delivering. The model considers 11 key dimensions to determine whether an organization is a beginner, intermediate, or leader. Dimensions include whether workflows are integrated, workers are equipped with the right digital skills, and if platforms are designed for the cloud. According to our survey, two out of every three C-level executives who responded believe an enterprise-wide digital platform is important to the future of their organization. The flexibility of the cloud paired with integration and automation enables their business to be proactive and move faster.
Recent think pieces from our team
Trendsetters in evidence-based thought leadership
ESI ThoughtLab is the thought leadership arm of Econsult Solutions, Inc. (ESI), a leading economic consultancy headquartered in Philadelphia, PA. ESI ThoughtLab specializes in analyzing the impact of technological, economic, and demographic shifts on industries, cities, and companies. Our in-house team of over 40 thought leadership, economic, and subject matter specialists, along with our global network of experts, excels at creating valuable decision support that sits at the intersection of visionary thinking, analytical excellence, and innovative content formats.
Fresh thinking to stay ahead of the curve