Powering your innovation engineHLB Survey of Business Leaders 2022
The innovation imperative
The past couple of years have demonstrated how resilient, adaptable, and creative every industry has become in response to the ongoing stressors. 86% of the business leaders we have surveyed this year feel more confident in their ability to innovate as compared with pre-pandemic. This buoyant mentality is further reflected in their agendas. New product and service launches, emerging technology investments, innovation around talent management and sustainability are among their top-cited priorities.
However, levels of optimism are more muted when it comes to talent capabilities, as well as financial means to fund innovative projects. This year’s risk radar for global business leaders has also shifted from addressing the direct implications of the global pandemic to improving access to talent and addressing macro-issues such as rising risks of inflation, regulatory changes, and climate change.
Across the board, leaders are compelled to switch from managing their response to the crisis to seeking new opportunities from the disruption. 83% of respondents agree that more rapid and effective innovation is critical to future growth. But first they will have to overcome three formidable challenges: funding, people, and culture, which we explore in this year’s report.
Finding funds to fuel innovation
Many industries are on shaky ground as a result of ongoing disruption, so it’s perhaps not a surprise that leaders rank Insufficient funding amongst their top barriers to innovation. Only 55% of business leaders have a budget set aside for innovative activities of any magnitude. Additionally, 43% are still looking at further cost reduction this year. Business leaders are using a variety of techniques to fund their innovation ambition from cash flow to debt financing.
Is it possible to innovate with frugality? Over the past two years, the most affected industries have proved that you can do more with less — from virtual global sales meetings, and new local distribution models to hybrid working. Many more have secured funding through government grants, crowdfunding campaigns, or “pay forward” initiatives.