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IT and the Innovation Toolbox

Innovative ideas have no actual value: it’s only by acting on them that they earn value. And effective action is only possible with the right tools for the job. Thankfully, in a digital business world, the IT department can hand us a fully-equipped toolbox.

But in a marketplace where innovation is the new fuel of business growth, how exactly do IT leaders see themselves supporting this agenda?

Aspiration, automation, ambition

Innovative companies move fast, testing new ideas on a constant cycle. They need systems that can do the heavy lifting in some areas and speed up progress in others. But our latest research found that within IT departments, innovation efforts are currently most likely to focus on data protection and preventing cyber attacks. Unquestionably vital areas, but not innovation-enabling for other teams.

There are aspirations to innovate in other areas, whether chatbots, VR, or better system controls, but less innovation currently happening. Automation, in particular, seems to be posing challenges: While 82% of IT professionals hope to enable innovation around intelligent automation, only 70% are currently acting on it.

And when it comes to reducing time-consuming tasks, and freeing employees to focus on more valuable (and innovative) work, intelligent automation could go a long way.

We found that IT professionals see ‘incremental technologies’ – the back-office systems and tools like cloud and AI – as the area of innovation that plays the biggest role in their company right now. And they feel this will remain the most important area for the next three years.

Innovation around disruptive technologies, like mobile productivity tools, and culture-enabling technologies (e.g. enhanced CX platforms) is also happening now – and will continue – but to a lesser extent. However, this is where IT teams could deliver the most transformation, impact, and business value for the innovation agenda.

Finance, HR, and marketing teams may be able to say what they need, and IT can provide those tools. But they can also advise these departments on new tools, advanced systems, and forward-looking processes that could support their goals. And only the IT team is in a position to do this.

Tools for transformation

When it comes to bringing new products to market, IT professionals admit the main barrier is a lack of enabling technology – and technology is one of the top two obstacles according to HR, marketing, and finance professionals too. But this could all change.

Ambitious IT leaders could pave the path of innovation with transformative technologies. They could enable every department to uncover new insights, work more efficiently, and bring new focus to the innovation agenda.

Our full report shows how IT, and other departments, think about innovation – and what could be on the horizon. Read more here.

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