The GE Innovation Barometer report, now in its 4th edition, is an international opinion survey of senior business executives. Operating in over 26 countries, it aims to gauge the views of individuals actively engaged in innovation activities in companies worldwide.
The survey seeks to assess and measure the winds of change, correlating the data from over 3,000 respondents. The GE Global Innovation Barometer adopts an in-depth approach to better understand the way that businesses adapt their innovation practices and strategies, especially given today’s challenging economic environment.
What The World Thinks
Innovation executives are acutely aware that powerful trends are at work which will change the business environment. Often this is seen as a positive movement, indeed 80% of those interviewed globally felt that people in their country lived better today than 10 years ago as a result of the impact of innovation. Over half of those interviewed, 52%, even cited the modern landscape as a ‘new industrial revolution’ as we shift towards an age of advanced manufacturing and industrial internet.
Increasingly it seems this innovation is about finding the right talent, partners, resources, ideas and insight on a global scale. 47% of respondents believed that external collaboration was an established trend and reality, 77% of interviewees agreeing that this was a risk worth taking for a business. Indeed the prevalent view is that this can provide great benefit; 64% of those interviewed believe the revenue and profit generated by collaborative innovation activities has been growing over the last year.
Smaller companies however have been slower to adopt this approach, 59% of those companies with less than 100 employees claimed a profit increase from collaboration compared to a figure of 68% for companies with over 1,000 employees. Again this varies with industry, with automotive being at the lower end of the collaborative scale and IT and Professional Services, perhaps unsurprisingly, performing much better.
The Information To Adapt
One of the most crucial aspects of the changing landscape is the idea of ‘Big Data’. 31% of those interviewed saw this element as critical for all companies, a further 39% believed it critical for some. The reality is only 6% of those interviewed now see this term as a simple buzzword.
Yet again, markets vary in their understanding of this concept, as 70% of those interviewed in Algeria had never heard of ‘Big Data’ compared to just 13% in Poland. Whether the term itself is recognised or not, 47% of those interviewed said their company had increased its ability to analyse large and complex amounts of data over the last year. If we want to innovate, having the data to assess how is vital to its success.
Yet with innovation can come difficulties. 61% of respondents believed a move towards big data would provide significant challenges going forward. And it’s not simply technical challenges that we face. 47% of respondents reported that there is a strong fear that technological innovation will increase inequalities. If innovation is to prosper then this perception must be addressed too. There is no one size fits all approach to innovation. This is evident with the fact that 84% of those asked cited it as critical for innovation that we understand customers and anticipate market evolutions.
Figures show that the Malaysian market displays a positive attitude towards innovation, despite any challenges it may face. 78% of those interviewed nationally believe that constraints such as energy challenges and lack of infrastructure, far from restricting innovation, actually create innovation opportunities for companies willing to invest in overcoming them.
Yet innovation requires planning. 72% of Malaysian respondents reported the most successful innovations emerge from a structured process. This is 10% higher than the global average. There is a national feeling that we must plan to succeed. Yet conversely figures showed that 24% of respondents felt that the incapacity of business to take risk was limiting innovation, 8% higher than the global average. Perhaps this is why only 23% of those asked globally cited Malaysia as having an innovation-conducive environment.
Yet it may well be that it is our perceptions that are lacking, not our innovation. In truth Malaysia is ranked 12th on the INSEAD Global Innovation Index for 2013, an internationally accepted measure of innovation. Yet the barometer itself still shows that 89% of executives in Malaysia saw innovation as a positive force, 9% higher than the global average.
There is the will then to innovate, and energy could be at the core of that. The energy industry is facing multiple challenges but driving economic growth through new and more sustainable sources of energy is identified as the absolute priority; 86% of innovation executives globally agreed on this.
Yet outside energy the main priorities of innovative executives in Malaysia are clear. 62% of Malaysian executives agreed that government allocates an adequate share of their budget to support innovative companies, yet 90% of interviewees agreed that reducing bureaucracy and ensuring business confidentially were both essential.
Innovation is vital for development. It is even strongly perceived to be a force for good within Malaysia. But aside from the difficulties of energy and infrastructure, the message is clear; executives want to see an environment for that innovation to flow, and do so with a good degree of confidence that the work which results will remain secure.