GE reports ‘innovation vertigo’ in latest global innovation barometer

17 Jan 2013

While business executives continue to see innovation as a strategic priority, one in three are concerned about their ability to maintain a competitive edge in a more globalised, resource-constrained environment – that’s according to the latest Global Innovation Barometer from General Electric (GE), released today.

In its third Global Innovation Barometer, GE cites the term ‘innovation vertigo’ as being an uneasiness about the changing dynamics of today’s business landscape, and uncertainty about the best path to take, as challenging leaders to think differently about how to achieve growth.

The aim of the latest barometer from GE was to explore how business leaders from around the globe view both barriers and drivers to innovation and to look at how those perceptions influence strategy.

More than 3,000 senior business executives in 25 countries, including Ireland, were surveyed for this year’s barometer, with each of them having a direct involvement in their company’s innovation strategy and decision-making processes.

According to the barometer, respondents appear to be torn about how to best respond to the changing business environment, especially by adopting protectionist tendencies.

Seventy-one per cent of executives reported that their government should prioritise the promotion of domestic innovation rather than imported innovation. Meanwhile, 71pc also believe that their governments should actually open markets further and promote imported innovation and investment.

GE reported a 53pc overlap between these two opposing views. It seems that executives in Mexico (80pc), India (56pc) and Brazil (50pc) were most likely to advocate both open and closed market policies as a means to better innovation.

Product innovation

In terms of product innovation, 52pc of respondents believe that the development of new business models will contribute the most to their company’s performance in the future.

The GE barometer also looked at how collaboration between businesses is emerging as a means to edge past competitors and generate revenue, especially in emerging markets.

The survey found that 87pc of respondents feel their company could be more successful at innovating by forging partnerships and collaborations. In all, 68pc of respondents said they had already developed or improved a product by collaborating with others, with businesses in Germany, China, Brazil and Sweden being the most experienced at creating such partnership.

The chief reasons for collaborating with other companies include access to new technologies and markets (both 79pc). As to deterrents towards collaborating with others, 64pc cited fears over lack of confidentiality or IP protection, followed by trust (47pc) and a fear of talent poaching (45pc).  

“Innovators must be resilient or risk being left behind,” said Beth Comstock, senior vice-president and chief marketing officer at GE. “Change has become constant and we see leaders responding by betting big on more unconventional approaches to innovation to unlock growth,” she said.

Carmel Doyle was a long-time reporter with Silicon Republic