News & Analysis

Australian business executives excited about, but unprepared for, innovation, according to new report

- March 2, 2016 2 MIN READ

It may be too early to put the results down to the Federal Government’s recently-launched $28 million ad campaign spruiking the ideas boom, but Australian executives and ‘informed citizens’ are optimistic about the potential of innovation, with 87 percent of executives stating that the “startup ethos” is the paradigm to follow in business, according to a survey from General Electric.

The 2016 Innovation Barometer, which tracks sentiment across more than 20 countries, found that Australians are more optimistic about innovation, the ‘Fourth Industrial Revolution’, than most.

More than 60 percent of executives and 69 percent of informed citizens in Australia – those who have attained a university qualification and regularly follow business news publications – stated they believe innovation will create new types of jobs, compared to just 48 percent of executives and public respondents globally.

Over 50 percent of Australian executives said they were also confident innovation will improve the quality of existing jobs.

Geoff Culbert, president & CEO of GE Australia, New Zealand and PNG, said of the results, “We are living in the most disruptive era in history. Compared with the industrial revolution, the change we are experiencing today is happening ten times faster and at 300 times the scale, so companies are feeling massive pressure to disrupt themselves to survive.”

“It is encouraging to see that Australian business leaders are excited about entering the Fourth Industrial Revolution, more so than our global peers. They recognise the transformative power of innovation and see enormous potential to uncover new business models, new products and new markets to succeed in today’s increasingly competitive world,” he added.

However, just because they are excited doesn’t mean Australian business executives are prepared to innovate, with 89 percent stating they are feeling the pressure of ‘Digital Darwinism’, that startups will make them obsolete. Just 32 percent of respondents said they felt their company is performing “very well” at quickly adapting and implementing emerging technologies.

While these executives were able to identify the best practices to foster and enable innovation – creating a collaborative, connected culture, having a clear structure in place to manage innovation, acquiring and integrating external innovations into the company – they stated that these are also the most challenging to implement.

This echoes sentiments put forward by corporates in a report from strategy consultancy Crazy Might Work last year. The report found that corporate Australia felt ‘overlooked’ by the Government’s Innovation Statement, with business leaders stating that while innovation is considered a key strategic pillar by all corporates, there is no solid understanding or agreement among these businesses on what it is, how to achieve it, and how to measure it.

Image: Geoff Culbert. Source: The Australian