Businesses want more time for innovation

Despite 88% of Australian business decision makers identifying innovation as either very relevant, relevant or somewhat relevant to their business, a number of key barriers are getting in the way of it.

SMEs are battling against conflicting priorities when it comes to implementing innovation, according to Commonwealth Bank research findings released on Thursday.

A key take out of the research involving Australian business decision makers was a disparity between the perceived ideal amount of time required for innovating and the amount of time actually spent on it.

This was most pronounced in businesses with a turnover of between $6 and $25 million, where innovation is seen as highly relevant to business, however nearly half spend just three days or less a year either thinking about innovation or working on it. Half of these businesses said they would like to increase this time by 25% or more.

Despite close to nine in ten – 88% – of Australian business decision makers identifying innovation as either very relevant, relevant or somewhat relevant to their business, a number of key barriers are getting in the way of it.

Mid-size business decision makers cited ‘conflicting priorities’ – 33% – as the most common roadblock, followed by ‘not knowing where to start’ – 21% – and needing to find ‘the right people to help’ – 20%.

Across all business sizes, ranging from under $1m in annual turnover to those with more than $25m, a ‘lack of time and resources’ and ‘finding the right people’ are cited as the biggest barriers to innovation, restricting the time they can dedicate to working on improving their performance and enhance the customer experience.

Claire Roberts, Executive General Manager, Local Business Banking, Commonwealth Bank, said finding time and the right skills to focus on innovating must 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. 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,’ Claire said.

Businesses are realising the advantages of looking externally for support in innovating. Close to half – 45% – of decision makers reported learning about it from experts. Nearly nine in ten – 89% – mid-size business said they see benefit in collaborating with others on innovation.

‘These results reinforce the importance of the Commonwealth Bank’s actions that are helping our clients find the right time, space, collaborators and experts to help them become more innovative, and that is why we have developed our Innovation Labs,’ Claire said.

‘In addition to our permanent Innovation Lab in Sydney, over the last month we have hosted a Pop-up Innovation Lab in Melbourne following the one held in Adelaide last year. More than 100 businesses visited the lab in Melbourne to see new technology and hear new thinking. Several companies spent time with us working on their business problems, identifying over 600 ideas and 65 unique opportunities.

‘At Commonwealth Bank, 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. We encourage business decision makers to prioritise iti and reach out to partners to unlock new avenues for it and performance improvements in their business.’

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