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Businesses claim UK lags behind China and US in tech innovation

Caroline Baldwin

Over half of businesses claim the UK lags behind China and the US, which are investing in technology to drive innovation.

But experts claim that to solve this problem everyone within a business needs to be involved in creating innovation, rather than individuals and departments.

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Research conducted by Accenture found that 39% of UK businesses believe a corporation’s IT department should lead innovation, while only 4% think that everyone within a business should be involved in creating innovation.

Andrew Poppleton, managing director of Accenture's UK and Ireland Technology Group, said there is a trend happening where responsibility is moving from the IT teams and the CIOs to being a “board-wide responsibility” and all of the company having a collective responsibility over business innovation.

“It takes having someone senior in the organisation with the right level of charisma, insight and vision to take the organisation with them. Organisations are at different levels of maturity in that regard,” he said.

Alastair Mitchell, CEO of UK startup Huddle, told Computer Weekly there is a need for “senior-level innovation”, which looks for new ways of doing things from the top-down, permeating attitudes through the business.

He said that when there is no “top-level culture of innovation and taking risks”, staff in the middle layers of business are “more risk averse because they have a day job to do, and are often tasked with maintaining the status quo rather than taking risks”.

The survey of 273 business decision-makers from medium and large corporations found that 68% had made a significant investment in innovation in the past 12 months and will continue to do so.

But businesses are finding it difficult to invest in innovation due to constrained IT budgets (48%), lack of skills (38%) and lack of creativity or inspiration (36%).

Looking at startup technology companies could solve this problem.

Poppleton said that startup tech companies are “innovators by definition” and thanks to the government’s investment in schemes such as Tech City, the smaller players are “becoming quite fashionable”.

“Startups are getting access to new thinking, new ideas, and more agile delivery than they would through traditional players,” said Poppleton.

But he added that CIOs need to “wade through so much noise to find the innovation” from startups, so schemes like the FinTech Innovation Lab can help connect corporates to smaller suppliers.

Over a third of the businesses surveyed said dedicated tech hubs and incubators such as Tech City would help to drive UK innovation.


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