Innovation is not just a buzz word, it is a global phenomenon, which will grow and continue to deliver impressive dividends through the merging and combining of talents, ideas, insights and resources across the world.
Gauging Innovation as an Index of Development
This is the over-arching consensus from General Electric’s 2014 annual Innovation Barometer report for Nigeria.
The result also indicates that SMEs are at the forefront of innovation in Nigeria (according to 39per cent of those polled). That segment is followed by multi-nationals.
The GE innovation barometer report is the result of a wide ranging opinion survey of senior business executives, all actively engaged in the management of their firm’s innovation strategy is carried out on behalf of GE by Edelman Berland in 26 countries including Nigeria.
The survey proceeds along three well defined parameters – it examines the way business executives around the world appreciate their countries uniquely developed framework for Innovation; it details the perspective from business on the most efficient policies to support Innovation; while adopting a firm centric approach to better understand the way international businesses adapt their innovation practices and strategies in a challenging economic environment.
This year’s report, which was publicly presented on May 20, 2015, offers according to a statement from the company, “interesting insights and amazing perspectives on the trajectory of innovation currently playing out in the Nigerian corporate ecosystem.”
The report is a smorgasbord of numbers and perspectives reflecting varied insights and differing opinions but with a single consensus, the over-arching need for innovation as a key driver of business growth and development.
Eighty two (82%) of business leaders sampled saw innovation as a positive force, which has improved the quality of life of people in Nigeria at a scale only imagined 10 years ago.
To innovate, 80per cent of Nigerian business executives polled noted that collaborations are key even though they identified collaborations as risky on account of current challenges with Intellectual Property infringements but those risks are mitigated, they agreed, by growing revenue from collaborative synergies and innovation.
Eighty five (85%) and 82per cent of those polled said two key elements necessary for successful innovation remain the necessity of understanding customers and anticipating market evolutions as well as attracting and retaining a highly talented and skilled workforce respectively.
72% of Nigerian executives who took part in the survey differed from their global colleagues regarding how the innovation process should proceed. The consensus is that most successful innovations are planned and emerge through a structured innovation process instead of a spontaneous and disruptive turn of events.
The question of whether companies should allow innovators work in silos within the organization or as part of the company itself received a 69 per cent nod from business executives who believe that innovative teams should work alongside the larger pool.
The business leaders also noted that some segments of the Nigerian economy have embraced innovation faster than others. They believe that High tech, Telecom and Energy industries have embraced innovation more than the Manufacturing and Healthcare industries.
Regarding an enabling environment policy wise, 30 per cent of those polled in Nigeria agree that government support for innovation is efficiently organized up from 27% last year but still below the global average of 40per cent.
Sixteen (16%) of those polled say the overall framework for innovation has slightly improved in Nigeria vis a vis ‘an innovation-conducive environment’ compared to 12per cent 18 months ago.
To promote a more efficient ‘innovation-conducive environment’ 94per cent of business leaders surveyed said government should actively promote partnerships between the public and private sectors; 93per cent said they would like government to better align students’ curricula with the needs of business while 92per cent called on government to better protect business confidentiality and trade secrets on par with encouraging the collaboration of private companies with State Owned Enterprises.
An interesting insight was the seeming inability of most of the business leaders polled to engage with new buzz words like Big Data and Industrial Internet and the convergence of technology and big data as key to the emergence of a new industrial revolution facilitated by the linkages between hard ware and software.
This clearly pointed to the fact that while a new corps of innovators is emerging those who make the decisions need to get with the program in order to better supervise and direct the soldiers matching into a new frontier.