Helping Cities Succeed In A Disrupted Future

Some will thrive in the new era, attracting companies, workers, and entrepreneurs. Others will stagnate.

The mad scramble to attract Amazon’s second headquarters in the United States got everyone’s attention, but similar battles are playing out every day on a smaller scale in cities worldwide.

We are in a period of tremendous technological change that promises one of two distinct outcomes for the world’s urban centers: Either they will embrace the new era, marshaling and mobilizing their resources to attract companies, workers, and entrepreneurs — or they will stagnate.

The Oliver Wyman Forum is dedicated to helping cities emerge as winners.

City readiness for a disrupted future is one of the Forum’s foundational themes. We believe this is an opportune time to explore the topic and to share ideas for success. Cities are, for the first time in history, now home to more than half of the world’s population, and their rapid growth suggests they will become even greater economic powers.

Competition between cities will only intensify, as they vie against one another for pole position, much like hitherto competition between nations or regions. And the leading cities of today won’t necessarily prevail tomorrow, as technological advances disrupt the way we live and work.

Our objective is to step away from traditional analysis and identify a small set of governing criteria that will help tip the balance and that underlie the following questions:

  • What makes one city more successful than another?

  • What makes many of today’s leading cities vulnerable to technological disruption? What are the early warning signs?

  • What can today’s leading cities do to avoid being disrupted?

  • Besides enabling technological progress, what are the complementary factors that determine success?

  • Finally, who is winning? What does the current ranking look like? And which “sleeper” cities should current leaders be watching?

To do this, we will bring together ideas from the world’s brightest thinkers with the rigor and discipline Oliver Wyman is known for. We will interview city officials and global leaders in public policy, academia, nonprofits, and business. We will identify qualitative and quantitative guideposts that cities can use to evaluate how prepared they are for the opportunities and threats ahead. We will share research, convene events, and continuously offer updates on our City Readiness ranking.

Thanks for joining us in this exciting and essential initiative.


Timocin Pervane, Partner

Kaijia Gu, Partner