Culture is “critical” for innovation and organisations are increasingly adopting new business models to foster it, according to Deloitte partner, Bradley Burt. However, many executives still misperceive innovation and the associated technology, he said.


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Traditionally organisations have taken a “closed” approach to innovation where they “stay within their own boundaries”, relying on internal resources to generate new ideas.

That’s problematic, according to Burt, because “you’re pretty much restricted in terms of what you can come up with, in terms of ideas. Organisations [only] have a certain number of resources”.

The problem gets worse when those internal resources are not utilised. According to Burt, failure to encourage and reward innovation from employees fosters “learned helplessness” , and staff eventually see little value in going beyond business as usual.

But leaders have recognised the limitation and are turning to more open models where contributions are sought from external sources like customers, partners and even competitors with similar problems, Burt said. He gave an example of Lego incorporating customer ideas into product design.

Misperceptions

However, many organisations don’t make it that far as innovation is hamstrung by executives’ misperceptions, Burt said.

“[Some] executives think that innovation programs have to be huge, big, all encompassing programs. And they don’t, I think innovation should be seen as a portfolio of ideas, as small ideas that you can do quite quickly, quite easily, in a controlled environment.”

The misperceptions around innovation can also extend to the technology powering it, according to Burt. Many executives wrongly see some technology as cutting edge, when in reality the real impact comes from advances in cloud technology and computing power. Both of which are enabling the extensive and easier application of new technology.

“Executives think that this is all new. This technology isn’t new, it’s bee around for some years in isolation,” Burt said.

“If you look at placing devices on machinery, we now call that IoT. That’s been around for many years, the difference now is that we can integrate that in real time into your core applications to provide that end to end view.”

About the author

Joseph Brookes is a writer for the Which-50 Digital Intelligence Unit, of which SAP is a corporate member. Our members provide their insights and expertise for the benefit of the Which-50 community. Membership fees apply.

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