What’s the Best Route to Innovation Success?

A new study examines what companies are doing to spur innovation.
By: | February 28, 2019 • 4 min read

General Electric announces it is selling its biopharma division, a space that it helped pioneer. Online behemoth Amazon continues to expand its network of brick-and-mortar Amazon Go stores. AB InBev, the world’s largest brewer, announces a push into low-alcoholic drinks as sales of its Budweiser brand continue to fall flat.

These are strange economic times and the only constant, it seems, is the need for companies to continue reinventing themselves, what they sell and how they sell it. All of this underlines the necessity of innovation. So how are companies responding to this challenge?

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Well, they’re creating more roles, for starters. Specifically, 43 percent of the C-level respondents to EY’s (formerly Ernst & Young) 2019 Innovation Survey say they plan to create a “chief innovation officer” type of role within their organizations. They’re also changing the way they hire, with 46 percent of the 500 U.S.-based executives who were surveyed saying their companies are refining their hiring practices to attract “talent with diverse, future-focused skill sets.”

Notably, 44 percent of respondents said the percentage of their workforce with these skill sets is the best measure of their innovation strategy’s effectiveness. However, getting these employees to feel comfortable innovating while coordinating those efforts with a chief innovation officer could prove to be a heavy lift.

“One of the major challenges with this type of flat, collaborative approach … is establishing a balance between empowering a broad spectrum of the workforce while adding an element of oversight, coordination and escalation,” says Michael Inserra, senior vice chair and deputy managing partner at EY Americas.

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