When it comes to technology innovation, a lot of companies talk the talk, but do they also walk the walk? In many cases, the answer is no. It seems for too many business leaders, their comfort zones are preferable to taking risks that could lead to significant benefits in terms of cost savings, streamlined business processes, improved customer relations, and other common benefits of technology adoption and innovation. In the era of the IoT (Internet of Things), employees wish their leaders and IT departments were more forward thinking.
A new study from Softchoice, www.softchoice.com, a North American provider of IT solutions and managed services, surveyed 1,000 full-time employees and 250 IT decisionmakers at organizations across the U.S. and Canada to determine whether companies have the right leadership, culture, processes, and technology tools in place to truly drive innovation. The study—entitled “Enabling Innovation: When Actions Speak Louder Than Buzzwords”—suggests there is ample room for improvement when it comes to anticipating market trends, taking risks, and investing in technology that enables innovation.
For instance, just 24% of employees say they’re encouraged to have an entrepreneurial mindset and bring forward new ideas at work. Similarly, just 25% feel strongly that their employers encourage them to routinely challenge established practices. Further, when employees have a great idea to share, only about one in three respondents say they feel their business leaders will listen to them.
In terms of what employees want, 76% say they want more investment in technology that supports innovation. Softchoice’s data also suggests there is a significant disconnect between employees, business leaders, and IT when it comes enabling innovation. For instance, while 90% of IT decisionmakers indicated they are satisfied with the level of collaboration between their teams and other departments, 75% of employees wished their IT leaders would be more proactive in suggesting new tools that will drive innovation.
What can business leaders and IT teams do to inspire innovation across their organizations? First, leaders themselves must champion technology. Employees who see their leaders prioritize technology are four times more likely to perceive the entire organization as innovative, according to Softchoice’s survey. Leaders must also demonstrate that they are willing to take risks, which often includes challenging employees to think like entrepreneurs. Just 20% of employees surveyed said their organizations’ leaders are very open to taking risks. Employees must also have resources. Only 17% of Softchoice’s respondents said they have the tech resources they need to refine their own creative ideas.
Of course, taking risks in business is easier said than done. For obvious reasons, business risks aren’t easy for higher-ups to write off, and they shouldn’t be. However, technology resources—from consulting companies that specialize in the IoT, like the Peggy Smedley Institute, www.learnitiot.com, to technology conferences and industry-leading publications like Connected World magazine—can help. Too often, companies and their leadership teams feel isolated in their journeys to IoT adoption and technology innovation, but the IoT really should be a community in which cross-sector businesses share data, experiences, and successful and unsuccessful use cases with others with the expectation that they will receive valuable feedback in exchange for their own.