Companies that practice innovation are doing more than just investing in technology. They're evolving the terms by which it impacts their customers, employees, and viability as a business. 

The CommBank National Business Insights Report (FY19) takes a data-first approach to evaluating the common traits of ‘innovation-active’ companies, regardless of size.

It's based on a quantitative survey of more than 2,700 business owners, decision makers, managers and over 2,400 employees conducted between September and October 2018.

So, is your company truly innovative? Read on to discover our key insights or download the full report for more statistics, insights and recommendations from the research. 

1. They're strategic

Confidence, awareness, focus

Innovation-active organisations identify forces of change and turn them into opportunities for business growth. They have more:

  • Confidence in their ability to adapt to external factors in their environment
  • Awareness of the opportunities, threats and barriers to innovation
  • Focus on people factors and those that drive growth such as product, expansion, sales and marketing

Innovative organisations focus on enablers of change, emphasising customer experience, a skilled workforce and an embrace of technology.

By harnessing these factors, businesses can take advantage of market opportunities and are likely to be better placed to meet customer expectations.

Enabling change

Innovative organisations focus on enablers of change, emphasising customer experience, a skilled workforce and an embrace of technology.

By harnessing these factors, businesses can take advantage of market opportunities and are likely to be better placed to meet customer expectations.

2. They're customer-centric

Innovative organisations are able to adapt people, processes, channels and technology to meet the rising expectations of customers and enhance their experience. 

The perception of the positive role that technology will play in Australian business is growing. 45% of surveyed decision makers believe technology will allow staff to focus on delivering better customer experiences. What’s even more critical, however, is ensuring that employees have the skills and capabilities to adapt as customer expectations evolve. 

3. They're focused on people

They evolve their skills

Innovative companies commonly equip their workforce with an evolving set of skills that adapt to disruption. A strong internal culture, regular upskilling and an emphasis on wellness/flexibility are core drivers of success in this space. 

They share traits

An innovative workforce often shares a collection of traits, among them: 

  • Being more active in seeking diverse skills
  • Placing more value on developing a workforce with creativity and critical thinking skills
  • Being more likely to seek effective technology skills
  • Being much more likely to cite responding to client demand and enabling business growth as a motive for developing the skill sets they seek. 

They're confident in their employees

Decision-makers at innovation-active organisations have more confidence in their employees’ ability to help to continue to adapt. Employees were the most likely to stay in their job, had the highest job satisfaction and were the most optimistic about the success of their company.

4. They're enabled by technology

Innovation-active companies are more likely to understand and invest in emerging technologies. But this doesn’t mean investing in the realm of sci-fi — while 56% of businesses invested in systems like the cloud, just 5% of businesses have invested in blockchain technology, 4% in autonomous vehicles, and 9% in artificial intelligence/machine learning.  

Where technology has its most anticipated impact is on the workforce. As mentioned, 45% of decision makers anticipate technology will enable staff to deliver better customer service, but 40% believe staff will be able to focus more on revenue generation and 29% believe technology will require the hiring of more specialised staff. 

Innovation is an ongoing process

While every business is unique, the research indicates several opportunities to strengthen operations by building skills that underpin resilience in an ever changing competitive landscape. Business that do so will benefit from the tangible and intangible rewards associated with a more engaged workforce. 

Download the report

The National Business Insights Report (FY19) (PDF) puts the impact of technology, and training and development, under the spotlight within Australian businesses.

Interested in reading more about the economy, technology and sustainability? Visit CommBank Foresight for the latest data, research and insights for future-facing businesses.