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Innovation critical to business success
July 26, 2014, 12:36 pm

Executives, entrepreneurs and business academics at London Business School’s Global Leadership Summit held innovation to be a critical factor for success in business. The Summit, which included thought on how technology promotes fresh ideas and new approaches, debated the impact of technology on everything from the creation of the ‘new teenager’ to the office pecking order. An audience of 600 at the Summit organized in collaboration with Deloitte was asked a series of key questions.

When asked what the biggest threat to innovation in the corporate world is, nearly half (49 percent) said career structures that failed to encourage innovators were the biggest block – compared to 9 percent who blamed lack of imagination. The second biggest threat was regulatory burden and bureaucracy (33 percent). When asked, by 2020, what percentage of their company’s full-time workforce would be working remotely, 34 percent said more than half and 25 percent said more than three-quarters would not work in a traditional office.

“Technology and some fundamental shifts in management thinking are behind this response,” suggested Adam Kingl, London Business School’s Director of Learning Solutions, Executive Education.

“Leaders are learning how to enable their teams to flourish, and there is a recognition that the notion of a traditional 9-5, Monday-Friday, commute-to-the-office job is quickly eroding. There is, though, an equally strong case for bringing teams together on a regular basis to inspire and to share.” Business leaders described the difference that understanding consumer data makes to business. The audience was partly convinced, the poll suggested. Nearly half (48 percent) said their company should spend 5 percent or less of annual profits on big data analysis.

London Business School Professor Julian Birkinshaw said: “This is a surprising finding. I think it reflects a lack of clear understanding of what exactly ‘big data’ analysis offers to companies. The implication is that there is still a lot of scope for progressive companies to gain competitive advantage from capturing and making sense of data about their customers and their buying habits.”

Perhaps the most telling finding, given the subject of the Summit was the importance of technology and data to business today, was the response to a question about personal information. ‘A Dutch student recently auctioned all his personal data for £288. At what price would you be willing to sell your personal data?’ was the question.

The vast majority – 79 percent – said no price was enough. Just 3 percent indicated that they would sell it for less than £100 – they may place no value on personal data or they may believe that the benefits of giving it up do vastly outweigh any downside.

The poll findings

Which of the following should be the highest priority for business leaders today?
Maximizing financial return to shareholders – 17 percent
Creating a satisfying place of work for employees - 9 percent
Creating a responsible culture – 12 percent
Demonstrating integrity and moral leadership for society – 16 percent
Promoting long-term economic stability – 34 percent
f. Harnessing new technology and embracing innovation – 12 percent

What percentage of company profits do you think should be spent on analyzing Big Data?
10 percent+ - 13 percent
More than 5 percent - 22 percent
5 percent or less – 48 percent
1 percent - 17 percent

How should compensation (salary and bonus) in the financial services sector be regulated?
By national regulators (e.g. FSA) – 17 percent
By international regulators (e.g. the ECB, the IMF) – 34 percent
By the financial services sector itself – 11 percent
It should not be regulated at all – 39 percent

Which of the following is the biggest threat to innovation in the corporate world?
Regulatory burden and bureaucracy – 33 percent
Lack of cross-border patent protection – 1 percent
Lack of capital and other resources – 4 percent
Lack of people with the necessary skills – 4 percent
Career structures that fail to encourage innovators – 49 percent
Lack of imagination – 9 percent

What percentage of your full-time employees will work remotely by 2020?
Less than a quarter – 22 percent
More than a quarter – 19 percent
More than half – 34 percent

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