Australias Future Depends On Business Innovation

1 October 2015

Australia’s economy seems to be in the midst of a transition at the moment. We’ve ridden the prosperous wave of a mining boom for many years, but this has recently subsided and now the focus is on our other sectors to pull their weight.

With that, there is currently a large push from business leaders, economists and politicians to encourage existing Australian businesses to become more innovative and for people to embrace an entrepreneurial spirit.

In his first press conference as Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull led the calls when he said:

“The Australia of the future has to be a nation that is agile, that is innovative, that is creative. We can’t be defensive, we can’t future-proof ourselves. We have to recognise that the disruption that we see driven by technology, the volatility in change is our friend if we are agile and smart enough to take advantage of it.”

It seems the future of Australia depends on businesses to be innovative, but what’s in it for them?

NAB Survey: Australian businesses that innovate have more success

A recent report by National Australia Bank surveyed 2,000 Australian businesses of all sizes to assess the current culture of innovation. It found that one quarter of the businesses identified themselves as ‘highly innovative’. The firms that identified themselves as such were found to have higher trading performance, profitability, confidence and better employment conditions.

The report also found, however, that only 13 percent of the businesses rated Australia as a ‘highly innovative nation’.

Speaking about the results of the report, NAB’s Group Executive for Business Banking, Angela Mentis said it’s no surprise that industries that are under pressure are innovating more than other sectors in the economy.

“Australia’s future lies in our ability to foster a culture of innovation,” she said.

“Sharing information about innovations, trials, mistakes made and lessons learned helps the business community accelerate this culture we all want to create.”

So what does it mean to be innovative?

Many people think innovation refers to things like high-tech inventions and scientific breakthroughs. The truth is innovation can be a lot simpler than that and any business can do it. Generally, a business can innovate by implementing new ideas, changing their processes or creating more effective products to improve the success of the business. This can be anything from crafting a different marketing strategy to installing and taking advantage of new computer software.

How small businesses can become more innovative

Innovation can accelerate the growth and success of a business. But if you’re not a multi-national conglomerate who can afford to pour billions of dollars into its own product development lab, how do you go about it? Here are five ways to get started.

Connect and collaborate: Having broad connections with other businesses both from within and outside of your industry can not only open your business up to new opportunities, but also foster the sharing of new ideas. Ideas can also be sourced from customers via feedback, so leave your business open to suggestions from them.

Study your market: Businesses can only succeed if they know their market inside-out. Assess your competitors, keep up with the latest trends, read industry reports and research what your customers demand.

Embrace new technology: To ensure your business doesn’t get left behind, utilise the latest software, tools, machinery and computer systems. Technological change improves productivity and efficiency and can have a huge impact on your business’s profitability.

Experiment with ideas: Not all new ideas and methods will be a success right away. They may need to be tinkered with and refined in their implementation. Test them out to ensure they achieve what you intended them to.

Strive to improve: Simply having the business mindset of seeking improvement through change can inspire innovation. Focus on your current model and consistently push the business to seek out better processes, reduce costs and discover new markets and areas for growth.

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