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Only a small number of companies are known for continually producing fresh thinking, and fewer still engage multiple business divisions from within the company to develop innovative ideas, according to a new study conducted by the Economist Intelligence Unit for Oracle.

For instance, only 19% of surveyed senior executives worldwide say their information technology (IT) teams are involved in bringing innovative ideas to market.

Senior executives are far more likely to cite product development (47%), marketing (45%), and research and development (44%) as the teams involved in bringing innovative ideas to market.

One in four (25%) senior executives say sales teams are involved in cultivating innovation within the organization, while 24% say customer service teams are involved in such efforts.

Below, additional findings from the study titled "Cultivating Business-led Innovation," (PDF) conducted by The Economist Intelligence Unit for Oracle.

IT's Role in Business-Led Innovation

IT departments tend to play a supporting role in business-led innovation. Senior executives cite the following as the most important roles performed by IT to cultivate innovation:

  • Supplying technologies (e.g., mobile, cloud computing) that foster the innovation process: 51%
  • Enabling business units to adapt to processes rapidly: 39%
  • Implementing and maintaining new business ideas related to business processes: 28%
  • Educating business leaders on new technology trends: 19%
  • Identifying pockets of innovation in the enterprise: 11%
  • IT has no role in business innovation: 13%

Harnessing Technology for Innovation

The survey also asked senior executives about their companies' investment in four key technologies: Cloud computing, social media, mobile, and big data.

Senior executives appear to favor big data for developing new pricing models (60%), developing new products or services (38%), and improving business processes (38%).

However, senior executives favor social media as the emerging technology with the most potential to add value for developing new channels and improving customer experience (43%).

Gathering Customer-Related Insights

Senior executives understand the importance of involving customers in innovation cycles:

  • 54% actively collect customer feedback and analyze customer data for clues to innovate effectively.
  • 53% analyze customer data for trends.
  • 29% mine social media for customer ideas.

Mindset Against Failure

Interestingly, few organizations appear to be learning from their mistakes.

Nearly one-half (49%) of senior executives say their organization does not have a program to re-examine failed ideas, and another 13% don't know whether such a program exists.

Those companies that do have a system to address setbacks (38%) vary their methods to re-examine failed ideas. As part of the review process, executives say they often restate the problem (35%), readjust project timelines (24%), and expand the amount of data (24%) leveraged in the innovation.

About the data: Findings are based on a survey of 226 senior executives worldwide, conducted by The Economist Intelligence Unit on behalf of Oracle in April 2012.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
image of Lenna Garibian
Lenna Garibian is a MarketingProfs research writer and a marketing consultant in the tech industry, where she develops engaging content that builds thought leadership and revenue opportunities for clients. She's held marketing and research positions at eRPortal Software, GAP Inc., Stanford University, and the IMF. Reach Lenna via Twitter @LennaAnahid and LinkedIn.