Three drivers of innovation in the world of hybrid working

17 November 2021 4 min. read
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It feels like we’ve all been talking about hybrid working for a long time now, but it’s finally a reality in NSW after the state hit 80 per cent double vaccination. Victoria will likely be close behind, while offices in other states and territories are already operating in this new world of work.

Some people in our two biggest states are chomping at the bit to get back into the office full-time, others will go back as infrequently as possible, and the reality for most people will be somewhere between these two extremes.

However frequently people are back in the office, the experience should and will be different as these spaces are used primarily for collaborating and generating ideas. The challenge for business leaders will be to make the most of the chemistry that happens when people are in a room together.

Des Fisher, Innovation Principal at SAP in Australia and New Zealand

The good news is that the pandemic experience has made people more open to trying new things or approaching core tasks in different ways, but the shift to hybrid means that leaders must rethink how new ideas are generated, brought to life and made operational.

In its recent report – Thriving through innovation: Lessons from the top – the CSIRO and the University of Queensland say that less than half of companies introduced a new product or service during the past three years, and only nine per cent of innovations are considered market leading or new to the world.

Most organisations are under pressure to innovate, but teams should resist the temptation to look for new ways of doing anything and everything. Efforts should be focused on processes and services where they have an opportunity to lead the market or create a new one.

SAP is working closely with leading advisory firms including Accenture, CapgeminiDeloitte and EY to help clients find innovative ways of solving business challenges. Together we’re helping to sharpen the focus on making business better.

This includes helping institutional banks take a more data-driven approach to managing their customers’ working capital, maximising productivity and saving the Australian taxpayer by working with government to improve processes associated with the reshaping of departmental portfolios, and generating insights around blue carbon, one of Australia’s most exciting renewable opportunities.

Three drivers of innovation

Whatever the challenges and opportunities that face your organisation as we head into the post-pandemic phase of economic recovery, our advice is to focus your efforts on improving one of three factors:

Your organisation had to respond quickly when the pandemic hit, and will need to maintain this mindset in order to take advantage of shifting conditions in the months ahead.

Every organisation has a greater chance of success if the tasks that need to be done every day run like a well-oiled machine. Innovate on top of great business processes and concentrate on areas where you can differentiate.

No organisation does anything in isolation, so make sure you have the right connectivity and ecosystem of partners in place. This will enable you to react to changing market conditions more sustainably and build trust across your stakeholders, and the capital markets.

Employees, customers, partners and advisers must all be involved in every step of the innovation process. Initially, this means getting them in a room together with whiteboards, sticky notes and marker pens. But the bigger challenge is maintaining alignment and momentum after that in-person meeting as follow-ups and side chats happen remotely, in the digital world.

We’re entering an exciting period of economic recovery, but leadership teams must focus their innovation efforts, their people, and their business partners to be successful in the post-pandemic world of hybrid working.

About the author: Des Fisher is Innovation Principal at SAP in Australia and New Zealand.