Finding The Fuel To Drive IT Innovation

If IT innovation is the key to business sustainability, leadership and communication are the keys to innovation, says a new study by Softchoice.

“Think different,” ran an ad campaign years ago, for a certain tech giant that bore, and still bears, a fruit logo (and yes, of course, that would be Apple). The implication here? That thinking outside of traditional parameters fosters innovation, and innovation fosters, ultimately, change on a grand scale.

So it ever is. But innovative thinking across technology may have to come from the top to rally the firm at large. In a recent survey, Softchoice delved into workplace innovation, with respondents across 1,000 employees and 250 IT executives in North America.

The survey found that change might be better directed from the top down than thus far it has been. Roughly a quarter of employees said they receive encouragement from management to push against processes and the status quo, with an 82 percent tally of workplace leaders viewed at the employee level as being “uncomfortable” with a fear of failure.

And there seems to be some stymieing of idea flow from the lower echelons of firms. Roughly 36 percent of those employees surveyed stated they felt that innovative ideas would be valued from all corners of a company, rather than a select few. Looking toward management, only 20 percent said leadership is open to risk taking, and against that backdrop, it might not be a surprise that only 18 percent have comfort with “risking failure” in pursuing innovation for their firms.

The study, titled “Enabling Innovation: When Actions Speak Louder Than Buzzwords,” also found that only 37 percent of employees said their firms are “very innovative” and that critical metrics may be overlooked, in the sense of working with technology that can help with innovation and risk management. As far as technology is concerned, there seems to be a dichotomy at work, as 93 percent of the higher-level decision makers said that technology in place is well-positioned to serve goals set forth for innovation. But conversely, 76 percent of employees said they want more technology investment in their respective workplaces.

As for the technology that would help foster innovation, the cloud comes into play, as the study shows. IT is able to dovetail with employees to tackle business issues, with 72 percent of those surveyed maintaining half of their applications in the cloud, stating that such interplay is in place.

Separately, in terms of process, the study found that 15 percent of employees are able to dedicate 20 hours a month to new ideas, and only 52 percent of firms “carve out time” devoted exclusively to brainstorming.