Essential Retail: Complacency threatens innovation-led UK recovery

Essential Retail, 28th April 2014

Complacency threatens innovation-led UK recovery
Ahead of a business innovation summit this week, a new UK CEO survey shows that there is complacency among British businesses when it comes to bringing new ideas to market.

By Ben Sillitoe

Just 3% of the UK's largest companies can get a new idea to market within six months but the majority of firms are satisfied with their innovation pipeline, according to new research.

The study by strategic innovation consultancy ?What If! found that three-quarters of business leaders said they rely on fading revenue streams and more than 25% fear their business model will be unsustainable by 2017. The group argued that this shows complacency in the corporate world in relation to bringing new ideas to market.

Entitled 'Eyes Wide Shut', the survey is based on the views of 400 leaders from the UK’s largest businesses, including CEOs, directors and senior leaders from the retail, banking, energy, FMCG, healthcare, insurance, manufacturing, media, professional services and telecoms industries.

Set to officially be launched at ?What If!'s innovation summit on Tuesday 29 April 2014 in London, the research found that 57% of the UK's top business leaders concede their management team is failing to lead effectively for innovation, while 68% of leadership teams are considered better at delivering bottom-line efficiencies rather than top-line growth.

The consultancy group found that organisations are being damaged by disconnection, with 58% of business leaders believing their teams have no problem coming up with ideas, but 62% claim it is almost impossible to gain support to test and develop these new concepts.

In the retail industry, the likes of Tesco, Argos and John Lewis have all committed to innovation in recent years, and they each have teams focused on bringing new ideas to market. However, the research suggests that the wider business world has some way to go before it sees results from introducing fresh concepts and innovative thinking.

Matt Kingdon, co-founder and co-chairman of ?What If!, said: "During a recession the priorities are clear; drive costs down, minimise risk and just carry on, but as we enter recovery British businesses must innovate harder than ever, or be outpaced by the competition.

"The economic sun has risen on a very different landscape to the steady growth of the boom years. New technologies, rapidly adapting customer behaviours and globalisation are speeding up market changes and handing the advantage to nimble businesses who can innovate fast.

"Large companies, whose size was once considered a guarantee of survival, perhaps even a ticket to dominance, must respond quickly and with courage, to maintain their relevance and grow."

Panellists at tomorrow's London summit include Stella Creasy, Labour MP and shadow minister for business, innovation and skills, as well as political economist Will Hutton.

For additional POV on leading for innovation checkout our latest whitepaper, Eyes Wide Shut.

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