Posted by: kenwbudd | October 25, 2010

Innovation frustrated by short-term thinking

Information technology departments have often been accused of slowing down change or innovation, since systems can take time to adapt to new processes. However, a new survey reveals CEOs view their IT departments as the best thing they have going when it comes to innovation.

These are part of the findings found in Olympus Corporation of the Americas’ recently released findings of a Harris Interactive survey of the attitudes of 304 Fortune 1000 executives toward enterprise innovation. The study had some other interesting findngs as well. For example, most CEOs want an innovation culture as a way to attract and retain employees, and most say there’s too much short-term thinking to focus on innovation. An executive summary of the survey is available here.

IT is viewed as having been the most innovative function within executives’ own companies during the past 10 years (44 percent), and by far the most likely focal point for investment (60 percent) and continued innovation (63 percent) over the next two years.

Many of the innovations that companies are depending on to compete in a hyper-competitive global economy — analytics, e-business, automation, and mobile to name a few — are all about IT.

The survey finds that executives see a culture of innovation as crucial to not only growing their businesses (95 percent) and profitability (94 percent), but also for attracting and keeping talent (86 percent). However, more than half of executives (53 percent) say their company does not focus enough on enterprise innovation, citing the following obstacles to innovation:

  • Pressure to meet short-term goals and achieve quick results (64 percent);
  • Other business goals or objectives taking priority (61 percent);
  • Lack of incentives to inspire or reward enterprise innovation (36 percent);
  • Lack of systems or tools for fostering enterprise innovation (31 percent);
  • Insufficient resources to enable high-quality human capital to focus on innovation (29 percent); and,
  • Lack of support from senior leadership (19 percent).

While IT is seen as the main proponent of innovation, executives and managers in this area of the business may also be stymied by short-term priorities. IT departments are often so busy fighting fires and trying to keep the lights on with an overstretched staffs that long-term efforts end up on back burners. Here’s where a close partnership with the business side can make a difference, and keep exciting new innovations on the top of the priority list.

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