Challenges of innovation

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Businesses increasingly recognise the importance of innovation to remain competitive, but implementing innovation can be challenging from a time and resource perspective.

The Commonwealth Bank’s 2016 Innovation Study recently surveyed nearly 800 businesses with a turnover of up to $100 million to gauge their views on innovation and how it is approached within their business.

The majority of respondents (88%) believe innovation is either very relevant, relevant or somewhat relevant to their businesses, however, a number of roadblocks are getting in the way.

The biggest barriers to innovation across all business sizes (under $1 million annual turnover to more than $25 million) were ‘lack of time and resources’ and ‘finding the right people’.

For mid-sized businesses (annual turnover between $6 and $25 million), challenges include ‘conflicting priorities’ (33%), followed by ‘not knowing where to start’ (21%) and finding ‘the right people to help’ (20%).

The study also reveals a disparity between the perceived ideal amount of time required for innovation and the amount of time specifically dedicated to it.

Innovation was seen as highly relevant to businesses with a turnover of between $6 million and $25 million, however, close to half spend three days or less a year thinking about or working on innovation, with half of these indicating they would like to increase this time by 25% or more.

According to Claire Roberts, executive general manager of local business banking at Commonwealth Bank, finding time and the right skills to focus on innovation should be prioritised by businesses of all sizes in order to stay competitive.

“While it’s great to see the majority of businesses are recognising the value of innovation, it is crucial they don’t stop there,” says Roberts.

“It’s not enough to simply say your business is innovative; you must also take action to foster an innovative culture and prioritise how to spend time on innovation to succeed.”

Could seeking external help be the answer for businesses struggling to implement a culture of innovation? Interestingly, the research found 89% of mid-sized businesses see the benefit in collaborating with others on innovation, while almost half of all respondents (45%) reported learning about innovation from experts.

“We believe innovation starts with asking the right questions, thinking outside the square, and ensuring the existing operations of a business, including products and services, are being continuously optimised,” says Roberts.

“We encourage business decision makers to prioritise innovation and reach out to partners to unlock new avenues for innovation and performance improvements in their business.”

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