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How can Austria maintain its attractiveness as a headquarters location?

Successful international company headquarters define the strategic direction. They enhance the innovative strength of the entire company and manage to reduce complexity. However, the challenges facing corporate headquarters at the present time have changed. Our latest corporate headquarters study concludes that the most serious challenges for corporate headquarters are issues such as sustainability, globalization and skills shortage alongside the digital transformation, maintaining and increasing innovative strength. All this should be considered against the backdrop of a volatile geopolitical environment. 

Influence of digitization

Particularly when it comes to digitalization, it will necessary to leverage and expand upon the resulting advantages for corporate headquarters. A recently published study of the Vienna University of Economics and Business carried out with the support of Roland Berger and Headquarters Austria examined the impact of digitalization on corporate headquarters. The study concluded that although many changes are waiting in the wings, corporate headquarters are not sufficiently prepared. Significant efficiency increases are expected from the application of new technologies such as robotic process automation (RPA). However, the corporate headquarters surveyed also believe that the main benefits will arise from real-time data transparency, a higher level of data consistency and quality and more accurate forward-looking analytics combined with machine learning. Ultimately, this will contribute to a more efficient management of the entire company.  

In order to meet these challenges, it is essential for corporate headquarters to strategically focus on enhancing their value contribution to the entire company, to make their contribution transparent, develop (digital) initiatives and implement them quickly. The speed of these activities comprises an important factor along with the related cultural change towards more agile approaches to work and collaborative innovation activities (open innovation).

Best pre-requisites for Austria

If Austria wants to remain attractive as a business location for corporate headquarters, it will be necessary to create a suitable environment and the necessary conditions in which the digital infrastructure, a functioning start-up ecosystem and digital know-how but above all people and talent are more strongly promoted than in the past. The Startup Hub Wien study we carried out in cooperation with Pioneers highlights the fact that the City of Vienna has catching up to do internationally when it comes to its start-up ecosystem. The access to capital in Austria is more difficult than in other European cities. For this reason, the Digital Austria initiative of the federal government which wants to set the right priorities in line with these recommendations is a most welcome step.

All in all, Austria has the best pre-requisites to remain an attractive country for international corporate headquarters and to even expand this position if we act quickly enough.

Dr. Vladimir Preveden

Co-Managing Partner at Roland Berger

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