A third of businesses believe innovation should be at the core of an organisation however, budget, staff resistance and cybersecurity concerns are in the way, according to a new index report. 

The Ricoh 2020 Workplace Innovation Index conducted by StollzNow examines the challenges and opportunities innovating and adapting to change present for Australian organisations. This is the second year the index has been published. 

The research found almost half of Australia’s business leaders agree innovation needs to be applied to developing products and services and internal processes.

According to the report, there are five spending priorities for Australian businesses: improving operational effectiveness; reducing costs; upgrading processes and operations; digitising workflow and processes, and delivering better customer experience. 

Accessing the skills needed to put innovation into action presents the same problem as it did in 2019, with 28 per cent of respondents stating they did not have employees with the right skills to help them address the need to innovate.

The index revealed analytics, workflow tools, collaboration and security are viewed as the key technologies that facilitate and support innovation. While blockchain and robotics continue to capture headlines and popular imagination, their value as innovation enablers remains uncertain. 

Ricoh Australia CEO, Andy Berry, said Australia has always been a nation of innovators but the challenge we face today is a lack of focus on taking our good ideas and developing businesses around them. 

“We need a culture shift. All businesses must develop a platform for continued innovation and create more agile paths forward for new products, services and economic cooperation.”

While a digitised environment can serve as the foundation for a more innovative corporate culture, only 60 per cent of organisations had a program to migrate to one in 2020, up from 56 per cent in 2019.

The research revealed a jump in the number of organisations that were reorganising their processes and procedures to incorporate best of breed digital technology: up from 33 per cent in 2019 to 45 per cent in 2020.

Executive confidence 

Executive leaders are more confident in their companies having the right resources to embrace change with 74 per cent saying their brand had the right tools to undergo change. 

However, those in middle management, 48 per cent thought the brand had the right resources. 

While many decision-makers support the idea of introducing more efficient and innovative systems and processes, they’re less enthusiastic about the short term results those systems deliver.

From the report, 65 per cent of respondents felt there was a loss of productivity when new systems and processes were introduced, up from 61 per cent in 2019.

An ongoing exercise which needs to start now

Australia’s business leaders are aware there’s work to be done on the innovation front, 22 per cent felt the country was ahead of other developed nations in the digital work environment. However, while 28 per cent stated the country was lagging behind.

Despite those figures, 23 per cent believed Australia could be ahead in the future, 50 per cent believe the country will maintain its standing and 22 per cent anticipate Australia will fall behind the rest of the world.

Berry said, “Investing in digital infrastructure and culture which help innovation to flourish is the key to making sure the latter scenario does not come to pass. It needs to be enterprise wide and ongoing, not an isolated or exclusive activity or exercise.

“Developing a program to move to a digital culture will have the welcome side effect of introducing more people to what is possible with digital,” he said. “It’s time to awaken ideas from all corners of your organisation.”

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