UK companies failing to capitalise on innovation

UK companies are failing to capitalise on innovation, but successful innovators are showing the way - says 821 business leaders.

Organisations are missing out on the potential of innovation to drive progress and profitability, according to a new report from PA Consulting Group.

It has found that in general, organisations are struggling to innovate, despite the two thirds (66%) of respondents who are convinced that innovation is crucial to their survival.

>See also: How businesses can re-engineer innovation

Only 28% said they are innovating successfully to drive growth and increase revenue. Moreover, a mere 39% of executives are confident they have defined the skills they need to be innovative.

At a time when some organisations are adopting a cautious posture in the face of global political and economic headwinds, investing in innovation is more important than ever. PA’s research on ‘innovation leaders’ – organisations realising a substantial increase in revenue and growth as a direct result of their innovation activity – makes clear that innovation not only helps organisations survive but thrive amidst uncertainty.

Innovation starts with leaders who recognise its importance and are willing to do something about it. Globally, 81% of the innovation leaders profiled in the report offer their employees an inspirational sense of purpose. Yet in the UK, over three fifths (66%) of senior executives feel that UK CEOs are not fully leading from the front and lack the vision and passion necessary to make innovation happen.

>See also: How businesses can transform through tech innovation

Learn from the leaders

Even with uphill challenges, the innovation leaders in PA Consulting Group’s survey pointed to a clear pathway for achieving innovation success. Successful innovators are more likely to:

Focus on the future – believe their organisation can deploy technology to meet customer needs (59% versus 49% of less successful peers) and excel at measuring the business case for innovation (57% versus 41%).

Design for innovation – measure the value of innovation (61% versus 47%) and take new products and services to the market faster (61% versus 42%).

Create an innovation culture – kill off ‘zombie’ projects earlier than their less successful peers (54% versus 40%) and reward employees for innovation (81% versus 69%).

Build a network for innovation –source ideas for innovation from outside the organisation (61% versus 52%) and have executive and leadership teams with a diverse range of skills and professional backgrounds (78% versus 66%).

>See also: Can big banks embrace a start-up innovation culture?

Frazer Bennett, chief innovation officer at PA Consulting Group said: “As we face the uncertainties of a post Brexit world, it is frustrating to see that many companies not yet taking advantage of the opportunities that offer potential for growth. The good news is that there are clearly identifiable steps for success, a set of tried and tested behaviours which are consistently displayed by those organisations who do succeed at innovation.”

“We’ve found that innovation leaders design innovation into the heart of their business, use agile techniques right across their business, and are quicker to kill off ‘zombie’ projects. They have strong external networks and foster a culture that learns from innovation failures, as well as recognising success. We’re optimistic that organisations can address the innovation conundrum and get better at employing innovative practices. This will help companies all around the world set themselves up for future health.”

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Nick Ismail

Nick Ismail is a former editor for Information Age (from 2018 to 2022) before moving on to become Global Head of Brand Journalism at HCLTech. He has a particular interest in smart technologies, AI and...

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