Half of leading innovation firms see growth in 2020 despite pandemic

Photo by Edward Jenner

As the region continues to deal with the disruptions resulting from COVID-19, 74% of firms in the Asia Pacific say that innovation is now a “must” for them to respond quickly to market challenges and opportunities, and ensure business resilience. 

Microsoft in its latest study with IDC Asia Pacific surveyed 3,312 business decision-makers and 3,495 workers across 15 markets in the region within a six-month period, before and since COVID-19.

Almost all (98%) organisations with the most mature culture of innovation (leaders) agree that innovation is a necessity to stay resilient during a crisis.

Almost half of leaders believe that they will recover from the pandemic in six months or less, and one-third expect to increase their market share despite the crisis.

“Organisations have challenges to overcome and innovation is no longer a luxury – it has to form the core part of their DNA,” said Ahmed Mazhari, president of Microsoft Asia. “It has become critical to adapt quickly and ensure business continuity and future relevance.”

Sandra Ng, group VP of the practice group at IDC Asia-Pacific, observed that nearly half (48%) of organisations in the region now say they find it easier to drive innovation, compared to a quarter (27%) of them before COVID-19.

The study also introduced the culture of innovation framework, which spans the dimensions of people, process, data, and technology, to assess organisations’ approach to innovation. Firms were grouped in four stages – traditionalist (stage 1), novice (stage 2), adaptor (stage 3), and leaders (stage 4), which are the most mature in building such culture. 

The study found that in the span of six months, firms have matured in the culture of innovation by 11%, an indication that they have increased their ability to innovate.

The study encouraged firms to fortify their resilience with technology, invest in people’s capabilities and skills, leverage data to increase competitiveness, and redesign processes to empower people to continuously drive innovation.

“To succeed in the new normal and drive digital transformation, we not only need to have a robust digital foundation, we also need to ensure our people have the skills and tools to work together to drive disruption,” said Mazhari.