Chief executives are taking greater personal responsibility for directing and inspiring innovation as it becomes an increasingly important factor in generating growth for brands and companies, according to the PwC survey. The research also shows that there has been a shift in how CEOs view their role in driving innovation. Today’s CEOs recognise that they need to be directly involved in driving innovation within their business, with 37% reporting their role as ‘leader’ in this area, and 34% as ‘visionary’. This contrasts sharply with the situation three years ago when a similar survey showed only 12% of CEOs were leading the charge on the innovation strategy.
Some 37% saw their primary role on innovation as being a leader, while a further 34% saw themselves as visionaries. The increasing importance of innovation to business leaders is largely due to a transformed competitive climate in which the internet, social media and digital devices had revolutionized consumer expectations and buying habits. Incremental product improvements are no longer enough to sustain growth. CEOs require new sources of revenue as well as better products.
After products, the business model and customer experience topped the list of areas where CEOs’ attention was focused in the medium term. PwC observed a shift in focus from products to solutions, as in the example of a soap powder maker opening a chain of launderettes, according to WARC, formerly NTC Publications, a publisher of marketing trends and forecasts, In addition, the role of technology is also evolving, away from product enhancement towards gaining better customer insights. A major obstacle to chief executives achieving their aims was the culture of their organizations, cited by 41%. Having the right culture to foster and support innovation and a strong visionary business leadership were seen as the most important ingredients for successful innovation.
Related areas, such as the capacity for creativity, willingness to collaborate with customers and readiness to challenge accepted norms were also high on the list.