Innovation key to returning profitability, says 360IT panel

Do not waste this recession, a panel of experts warned at today's IT360 conference in London. Innovation is back on the agenda and IT should be central to a business' innovation strategy.

Do not waste this recession, a panel of experts warned at today's 360IT conference in London. Innovation is back on the agenda and IT should be central to a business' innovation strategy.

With budgets being slashed across the board, business heads should avoid the temptation to slash IT budgets further. IT may be the only solution to returning the UK to profitability. Outsourcing everything is not the answer according to the panel, as it is the biggest danger to innovation. If a company outsources IT to save costs, the smart IT people leave the organisation, which hampers innovation.

In many ways traditional organisations do not recognise the role of innovation. David Chan, director of the centre for information leadership at City University, said: "We must use this recession to do things in a completely new and novel way. It is not necessarily about inventing new technology." He warned that fear kills innovation, so if people are afraid of losing their jobs then they will not innovate.

Allowing people to try out new ideas can lead to major breakthroughs. For instance, in the 1980s, 3M had an innovation programme which encouraged people to try out their own ideas without risk to their careers. One of those ideas became the Post-IT.

Innovation does not necessarily require a major change. Chris Price, head of ICT at Highways Agency, said: "It's not just a big step change, but small incremental steps on a journey."

Vlatka Toukalek, head of IT infrastructure and support at the World Meteorological Organisation, said: "Innovation is about the people. You have to be sure there is creativity throughout the organisation."

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