Business agility, technology and people are key to innovation

27 May 2020 5 min. read

Business agility, technology skills and people are key to innovation, according to a new innovation study by market research consultancy StollzNow Research commissioned by Ricoh. 

More than 800 managers in Australia from companies with 100 or more staff were surveyed for the study, the majority of which hold senior and middle management positions. The report’s key finding is that organisations of all stripes which invest in a number of key developments are likely to find it easier to implement incremental innovation, and disrupt their business models into greenfield avenues. 


Not surprisingly, digital tools and platforms have been found to be able to play a vital role in facilitating and supporting innovation. “At a time of immense upheaval, they can mean the difference between finding ways to do things differently – and falling in a heap,” said Ragavan Satkunam, a Senior Manager Portfolio and Strategy at Ricoh.

Program to move culture to a digital environment

A digitised environment can serve as the foundation for a more innovative corporate or organisational culture but found the study, in many Australian enterprises, there’s a significant gap between ambition and action. Currently, only 60% of local organisations have a program to migrate to a digital environment, while just 45% say they’re reorganising their processes and procedures to incorporate best of breed digital technology.

Analytics, workflow tools, collaboration and security are considered the ‘money technologies’ but how well Australian organisations are exploiting their potential is open to question.  “While two thirds of executive leaders say they recognise the value of collaboration, many organisations have failed to optimise their investment in collaboration tools by introducing collaborative practices in an integrated and systematic way,” said Satkunam. 

Those self-same leaders also appear to be less than enthused about the short-term results delivered by new processes and systems which purport to be more efficient. Almost two thirds stated they are likely to lead to a loss in productivity, at least in the short term. 

Productivity loss from new systems and processes


Keeping employees in the dark about digital transformation is an unfortunately common business practice; a factor which can contribute to their reluctance to embrace new workplace technologies, even when there’s a clear benefit to their doing so. 

Asked how Australian companies stack up against those elsewhere in the world, the report found that just one in five leaders believes the country is ahead of other developed nations in the digital work space. Satkunam: “More than one in four say we’re lagging behind, so leaders across the country are aware there’s work to be done.” 

Enterprise-wide, ongoing investment in digital infrastructure and culture is needed to arrest the slide. “Introduce people to what’s possible with digital and enable innovation to flourish,” explained Satkunam. 

How do you feel Australia currently compares to the rest of the world in the global digital work environment

Key is also that organisations have the right people on board – more than a quarter of leaders report they do not have the right people to address the need to innovate – and that these people are equipped and have the right mindset to make innovation happen. 

“Leadership, strategy and collaboration are all important ingredients for successful innovation. However, the innovation journey will be much tougher without a vibrant internal culture to support it,” said Satkunam. 

To this end, getting the workplace foundations right is another pre-requisite for innovation, finds the report. As it stands, around two-thirds of organisations support diverse ways of working, collaboration and remote working, characteristics that foster an innovative culture. But future cultures of innovation will depend on an organisation’s ability to support new and changing modes of working.

Success in allowing for multigenerational modes of working

Business agility

The third key trend identified is business agility. In today’s current fast-paced environment, “all businesses must develop a platform for continued innovation and create more agile paths forward for new products, services and economic cooperation,” said Satkunam, a feat that is now receiving heightened focus amid the covid-19-induced downturn. 

“Australian business leaders can significantly improve their company’s outlook with innovation by significantly reducing operating costs and bringing new products and services to market faster,” concluded Satkunam.

According to a study by KPMG, innovation is now the number two priority in Australia’s boardrooms, as companies navigate an increasingly competitive landscape and mounting consumer expectations.