UK companies not innovating to grow sales finds Accenture

Innovation to drive revenue in the UK is being neglected in favour of innovation to drive down costs in business, according to research from consulting firm Accenture.

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Innovation to drive revenue in the UK is being neglected in favour of innovation to drive down costs in business, according to research from consulting firm Accenture.

Accenture says the UK is lagging behind other nations when it comes to technological innovation, as businesses focus on improving internal productivity and processes.

Accenture questioned 275 business leaders across UK industry and found that over two-thirds of businesses (68 percent) have made a significant investment in innovation in the past 12 months, and plan to continue to do so over the course of the next year.

Yet the focus remains insular, said Accenture, as organisations believe it is more important to be innovative for their employees (65 percent) than for their customers (51 percent).

As a result, more than half (56 percent) of businesses surveyed believe the UK lags behind markets such as China and the US when it comes to investing in technology to drive innovation.

Andrew Poppleton, managing director of Accenture's UK and Ireland technology group, said: “A tough economy over the past few years has led businesses to concentrate on cutting costs and improving employee productivity, making the focus on innovation insular.

"However, with early signs of growth in the economy, it is now time for businesses to turn their attention to their customers and innovate for growth."

The companies surveyed believe that the key to enabling innovation include investment in skills and training (50 percent) as well as a collaborative culture (47 percent).

However only four in ten (41 percent) respondents placed an importance on rewarding or incentivising innovation, with overall responsibility for driving technological innovation typically sitting with the IT department (39 percent).

"Staggeringly", said Accenture, only 4 percent claim everyone within the business should play a role in driving innovation.

Barriers to businesses investing in innovation are far reaching, beyond reduced IT budgets (48 percent), and including deep rooted obstacles like a lack of skills (38 percent) and a "lack of creativity or inspiration" (36 percent).

The majority (57 percent) of those surveyed don’t consider their business to be "leading the way in using experimental technologies".