Innovation still a sticking point for US companies

Businesses in the US have been struggling with innovation for the past three years and things show no signs of improving according to a new survey from professional services company Accenture.

The survey of managers and executives in 500 companies across the US reveals that 60 per cent say their companies don't learn from past mistakes. This is nearly double the 36 per cent who admitted to this three years ago in a similar survey.

In addition 72 per cent say that their firms often miss opportunities to exploit underdeveloped areas or markets versus 53 per cent three years ago. Sixty-seven per cent also believe their companies are risk averse, a large increase from 46 per cent in the previous survey.

The survey shows that 82 per cent admit they don't distinguish their innovation approaches between incremental and large-scale change - meaning they use a single one-size-fits-all approach to achieve different goals. Most respondents say they have big innovation ideas but are missing an organisational home with the company, as a result their ideas often go nowhere.

"A significant gap exists between what US companies want to achieve in the innovation arena versus what they are able to do", says Adi Alon, a managing director with Accenture’s Strategy practice. "They want to innovate yet they need to take different and bolder actions to achieve transformational, major revenue-generating innovation. True innovation requires aggressive changes in technologies, operating models and talent".

Despite their companies' innovation shortcomings, respondents are more bullish about disruptive innovation than they were three years ago. For example, 84 per cent say they believe innovation is key for their long-term success compared with only 67 per cent in the earlier survey. The same number of respondents say they're looking for the "next silver bullet", in terms of a market-defining innovation, rather than incremental changes to the same products.

Creating new products is a priority for almost half (47 per cent) of respondents, an increase of 20 percentage points from three years ago.

You can find out more about the report's findings, as well as recommendations for how business can improve their approach to innovation, on the Accenture website.

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