FAIRFIELD, Conn.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–A first-of-its-kind report released today outlines a new landscape for innovation in the 21st century, placing an increased premium on addressing local needs, marshaling the creativity of individuals and smaller organizations, and forging strategic partnerships.
This study illustrates that the rules around innovation are changing, and that companies, like ours, will need to evolve our strategy in order to stay competitive, drive growth and contribute meaningfully to the economy
The inaugural “GE Global Innovation Barometer,” an independent survey of 1,000 business executives in 12 countries, found that the greatest innovations of our time will be those that help address human need, more so than those that simply create the most profit. The “GE Global Innovation Barometer” was commissioned by GE (NYSE:GE) and conducted by research and consulting firm StrategyOne to identify drivers and deterrents of innovation and to analyze perceptions around innovation challenges.
“This study illustrates that the rules around innovation are changing, and that companies, like ours, will need to evolve our strategy in order to stay competitive, drive growth and contribute meaningfully to the economy,” said Beth Comstock, chief marketing officer and senior vice president, GE. “For innovation to flourish, we must embrace a new innovation paradigm that promotes collaboration between all players – big, small, public, and private – fosters creativity, and emphasizes solutions that meet local needs.”
Innovation Will Deliver a New Brand of Prosperity
In the study, innovation was consistently seen as a strong driver of a prosperous economy. Ninety-five percent of executives said innovation is the main lever for a more competitive national economy, and 88 percent agreed that innovation is the best way to create jobs in their country. While the notion that innovation drives prosperity is not new, the survey sheds light on the evolving definition of prosperity. More than three-quarters of executives (77%) said they believe the greatest innovations of the 21st century will be those that help address human needs, such as improving health quality or enhancing energy security, more than those that simply create the most profit. They believed innovation would be a catalyst for improving multiple areas of citizens’ lives in the next 10 years, including health quality (87%), environmental quality (85%), energy security (82%), and access to education (81%).
“The results clearly demonstrate that globally our priorities are shifting from innovations that simply make money to innovations that also create good in people’s lives,” said Comstock.
New Players, New Rules
The survey showed that the traditional means of innovation are changing, placing more emphasis on individuals and small- to mid-size enterprises (SMEs) and creating a greater need for collaboration. In fact, 75 percent of respondents agreed that the way companies innovate in the 21st century will be “totally different” than the way they innovated in the past. The same percentage said that more than ever, individuals and SMEs will be as innovative as large companies, and 86 percent said that 21st century innovation is about partnerships between several entities as opposed to the success of a single organization. At the same time, 76 percent of executives said that innovation must be tailored to local market needs.
Respondents also emphasized creativity as a critical means to innovation. Nearly seven in 10 (69%) said that innovation is now driven more by people’s creativity than by high-level scientific research, while 58 percent agreed that having more “out-of-the-box” thinkers on the team is the No. 1 factor that would help companies innovate more.
The Innovation Optimism Paradox
The survey asked executives to name the three countries they viewed as the leading innovation champions; the U.S. topped the list with 67 percent, followed by Germany (44%), Japan (43%), and China (35%). Then, the survey explored the degree to which executives believed innovation would improve the lives of their countries’ citizens and the likelihood that that improvement would happen based on current conditions. Ironically, none of the top four countries that were considered innovation champions by their peers were optimistic about the power and prospect of innovation. Both China and Japan were designated “pessimists,” while the U.S. and Germany were designated “traditionalists,” falling in between optimism and pessimism.
This paradox may be due to perceived barriers to innovation in specific countries. In China, for example, 56 percent of respondents cited the need for more financial support from public authorities. In Japan, 36 percent cited the need to work with universities and research labs for product development.
GE’s Innovation Path
GE has embarked on several initiatives that will foster innovation in lock step with today’s global needs. For example, the company launched the GE ecomagination Challenge in 2010, a $200 million fund to help drive collaboration among entrepreneurs, researchers, and SMEs to accelerate the pace of innovation. The Challenge, one of the largest of its kind, is currently focused on finding the best ideas for powering the home.
About the Survey:
The research was commissioned by GE and conducted by StrategyOne between December 10, 2010, and January 14, 2011. Interviews with the 1,000 senior business executives were conducted by telephone across 12 countries. All respondents are directly involved in their company’s innovation processes and are VP and above with 30% of those surveyed C-suite. The countries included in the research are Australia, Brazil, China, Germany, India, Israel, Japan, South Korea, Saudi Arabia, UAE, Sweden and the USA.
Innovation was primarily defined by respondents as the development and invention of new products, creativity and definition accounting by 31% of the respondents.
Results and visuals available at;
GE (NYSE: GE) is an innovative and diversified technology company taking on the world’s toughest challenges. From aircraft engines and power generation to financial services, healthcare, and television programming, GE operates in more than 100 countries and employs about 300,000 people worldwide. For more information, visit the company’s website at www.ge.com.