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Digital shoring for networked innovation

Research reveals digital technologies can help innovators find each other.


Companies are under pressure to innovate faster than ever, and collaboration beyond organizational boundaries is central to accelerated innovation. But few companies navigate collaboration well—or even find the right path to get started. To move forward, companies must change their operating models to enable digital shoring, the latest evolution of organizational shoring approaches that unlocks new ways of working with partners located anywhere in the world.



Combining our survey and interviews among senior executives with a six-month analysis of the Twitter activity of 180 senior executives in six clusters and two industries, we found that there are two core benefits from the adoption of industry clusters, specifically involving digital:

Global Village

A formal network, or digital archipelago, brings together many organizations in a common pursuit. AutoHarvest Foundation’s co-founder and CEO, Jayson Pankin, believes collaborative innovation is critical to growth in today’s competitive and ever more complex landscape. Digital archipelagos are also informal with employees taping into available tools, such as social media, to form their own digital global communities. One way to track these informal digital archipelagos is by analyzing professionals’ activity on Twitter, the social media tool with some 316 million active monthly users.


Neighbors Better

Within or near physical clusters, companies today are using digital tools not only to magnify the benefits they already receive from their location, but also to better integrate into a particular cluster. Digital technology in not an alternative to physical presence but an important amplifier of its benefits. For example, the Massachusetts Biotechnology Council (MassBio), an association of more than 650 life sciences organizations based in Cambridge’s Kendall Square, uses Twitter to “take Kendall Square to those who can’t reach it” according to Sarah MacDonald, vice president of communications at Massachusetts Biotechnology Council. Our research revealed that professionals from a variety of organizations are already using digital tools to initiate business relationships within clusters.



Your path to networked innovation


In collaboration with Oxford Economics, Accenture surveyed 452 executives to understand the importance of location to business competitiveness. From December 2014 to February 2015, 50 executives (mainly C-suite) were surveyed in nine clusters from three industries: Life sciences and health; chemicals and process; and automotive.

To reflect the diversity of organization types in the industry clusters, we included professionals from companies working directly in the industry, as well as those from service providers, universities, chambers of commerce, industry associations, and research facilities.

In addition, we conducted analysis of 180 senior executives in the automotive and life sciences and health industries to better understand whether they were using Twitter to expand their networks outside their own physical boundaries. The geographic boundaries of the industry clusters were drawn on the basis of research and discussion with members of local chambers of commerce.


We interviewed 24 industry leaders and cluster experts. Follow the links on the summaries below to access a selection of these conversations:
Special thanks to our interviewees for their valuable contribution to this research.


The Accenture Institute for High Performance develops and publishes practical insights into critical management issues and global economic trends. Its worldwide team of researchers connects with Accenture’s business leaders to demonstrate how organizations become and remain high performers through original, rigorous research and analysis.

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Research Team
Matthew Robinson

Matthew Robinson
Managing Director of Policy Research

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Mukund Umalkar
Mukund Umalkar
Research Manager

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Alice MacNeil
Alice MacNeil
Thought Leadership Research Analyst

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Niaz Souti
Niaz Souti
Business Strategy Consultant

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Babak Moussavi
Babak Moussavi
Research Senior Analyst

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