Monday, 01 April 2019 12:50

Does innovation become reality?

Oracle APAC and EMEA senior vice president of technology and systems Andrew Sutherland Oracle APAC and EMEA senior vice president of technology and systems Andrew Sutherland

A worryingly small proportion of innovation projects are reaching fruition, according to a recent survey.

A report from software, hardware and cloud vendor Oracle suggests that as few as one in five innovation initiatives are becoming reality.

Two thirds of the more than 1800 decision makers around the Asia Pacific region surveyed said 80% of innovation projects never made it to market.

"While Asia has taken a lead globally in innovation, the research confirms the growing feeling that there is an impending innovation winter coming," said Oracle APAC and EMEA senior vice-president of technology and systems, Andrew Sutherland.

"In today's highly competitive global economy, companies cannot afford to sit back. Those who do risk being outpaced with little hope of catching up. Instead they need to look at the barriers and actively seek to address them.

"With an effective and supportive culture, clear vision from leaders, the prioritisation and funding of chosen projects and new approaches like co-innovating, activities in this area are more likely to see success. Being innovative isn't just about ideas, it's about execution."

Other findings included:

  • Over one-third of companies are overwhelmed by too many innovation projects.
  • Twenty-eight percent cited ongoing inertia and resistance to change.
  • Other major barriers to change were said to be lack of process (26%), a lack of vision (27%) and a lack of commitment from business (23%).
  • Not having the technology to enable execution or delivery was seen as another key factor, along with having the innovation team too separated from core business.

But innovation seems to be strongly linked with success, because 86% of companies experiencing strong to significant growth are investing in innovation.

"'If it ain't broke, don't fix it' doesn't work any more," Sutherland told attendees at the recent Oracle OpenWorld Asia conference. Organisations need a constant awareness of what's available to help them innovate.

Oracle supports innovation: it's good for Oracle and good for customers, he said.

Sutherland identified three pillars of that support:

  • Tools to release time and effort for innovation – "organisations spend too much money on IT ... [especially] keeping the lights on," when they want to spend more on innovation and growing the business.
  • Delivering greater insight into data – innovation comes from insight.
  • Investing with customers on co-innovation – combines the expertise of large enterprises with Oracle's technological expertise.

Innovation is happening more rapidly than before, especially in this region, he said. But it requires the ability to form teams very quickly because few innovations come from one person, and that calls for centralised human capital management.

Once those teams are formed, they need tools to support collaboration and to build complex solutions.

Organisations also need "data laboratories" (aka data marts, data warehouses) to allow hypotheses to be tested, he said.

Oracle supplies tools to help with all those considerations. For example, its autonomous database products use machine learning to reduce IT workload by 70%, as well as helping line of business units create their own data "play pits" with little or no help from the IT department. Furthermore, their self-tuning capability reduces hardware requirements by up to 90%.

The uptake of autonomous products is fastest in Asia Pacific, he observed.

Oracle's report "Having a successful innovation agenda" is based on a global survey of more than 5000 decision makers in companies with revenues of up to £500 million and workforces of 100 to 50,000. The sample included respondents from Australia, New Zealand, China, India, Japan, South Korea, Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand.

Disclosure: The writer attended Oracle OpenWorld Asia as a guest of the company.

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Stephen Withers

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Stephen Withers is one of Australia¹s most experienced IT journalists, having begun his career in the days of 8-bit 'microcomputers'. He covers the gamut from gadgets to enterprise systems. In previous lives he has been an academic, a systems programmer, an IT support manager, and an online services manager. Stephen holds an honours degree in Management Sciences and a PhD in Industrial and Business Studies.

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