Innovation is what drives business. But some companies place more importance on it than others.
There has been a wealth of technological innovations since the dawn of the modern age, which is often pegged as 1995 to present day. Everything from home and business computing, cell phones, the internet and online commerce form the foundation of today's era in innovation. The past 20 years has seen a vast assortment of new products and the habits to accompany those products.
To truly stand out in today's ever-changing world, businesses must work hard to stay ahead of the curve. This pressure upon businesses to become faster and more efficient, to develop original ideas and to conquer new frontiers continues to accelerate as the 21st century unfolds. These advances wouldn't be possible without innovation. It's the factor that drives the concepts of change and evolution, two essential ingredients in the business world.
As Scott Matteson wrote in Tech Pro Research's latest report, IT Innovation Report 2015: Top companies, key tech drivers, and biggest roadblocks: "The best business leaders use technology as a lever to drive innovation, which in turn leads to better technology and more possibilities for further innovation: a sort of perpetual motion machine, if the motivation and momentum are right. After all, company operations that are devoid of innovation are based on simply maintaining the status quo -- but nothing can remain stagnant in today's fast-paced world."
The report is the result of Tech Pro Research's March 2015 survey on innovation (Tech Pro Research is ZDNet's premium-content sister site). The survey asked353 respondents about the importance of innovation, what technological and business factors can drive or limit it, what roles are behind the concept, which companies are seen as leaders in the field, and which techniques will help foster innovation in the years ahead. In short, Tech Pro Research looked at the wisdom that makes innovation possible and how the gears turn to bring it about. The results are detailed and comprehensive and present a useful roadmap for companies seeking to make the most of their innovative efforts.
The survey asked the obvious question. How important is innovation to their organization. The answers to this question were nearly universal: A significant majority (71%) stated innovation was 'very important' to their company and over another fifth indicated it was 'somewhat important'. Only 7 percent attached littleor no value to the concept. Matteson notes that this survey "was conducted across an array of business types, some involving technology and others focusing on areas like education or government. This demonstrates the value of innovation is almost completely industry-agnostic."
Factors at the core of increased innovation
A solid majority (62%) stated their companies had become more innovative in the past five years, whereas over a quarter (27%) felt their innovation levels remained the same. Only 8 percent stated their companies were less innovative. This showcases the disparity between the acknowledged importance of innovation and the ability to make it happen. The solutions chosen by survey respondents can help others as they seek new ideas and paths to follow.
The survey first looked at reasons for increased innovation:
The largest percentage of respondents -- over two-thirds (67%) -- chose 'exploration of new possibilities'. This was followed closely by 'better technology', 'development of new products', 'new ways of doing things' and 'visionary leaders'. It all comes down to new possibilities and ideas -- along with the inspiration provided by those who can visualize and communicate these concepts.
The survey then looked at the reasons for decreased innovation:
Only 8 percent of respondents felt their company is less innovative now than five years ago, but the majority of this subgroup (52%) identified 'uninspired leaders' as the underlying reason. Without the right vision and the ability to communicate it effectively, stagnation can set in.
Value of innovation
Overall, Tech Pro Research's survey showed that the importance of innovative ideas and the methods to bring them about is recognized almost universally across industries, business sizes and job roles. While smaller companies lead the pack in innovation, large companies are setting the pace and providing inspiration.