Why big businesses need to innovate to compete in today’s market

When you look into perceptions around big vs small businesses, the commonly held view is almost always that small start-ups are innovative and entrepreneurial, while big business is slow, cumbersome and stuck in its ways. But is this actually true? Working in a big corporate myself I know it doesn’t need to be the case.

Interestingly, strategy leaders agree with me. They are putting innovation at the heart of their organisations’ strategies and focussing on creating cultures that enable their staff to be entrepreneurial.

When we spoke to one of the business leaders in this report, they described “innovation as creating an opportunity” and “entrepreneurship as being able to seize that opportunity”. The sentiment behind that view resonates with me, as there are natural connections between innovation, entrepreneurship, business structure, culture and ultimately, success.

Innovation can’t be forced or demanded, instead it has to be promoted and encouraged wherever and whenever it appears. This requires true employee empowerment, helping them realise that it is ok – necessary even – to believe in your ideas and take risks.

Of course, employee empowerment cannot simply be dictated, it must be nurtured and guided. Underpinning all of this is the use of intelligent technology. From communications systems that help employees to collaborate with their global colleagues, to remote access solutions that give productive, unhindered and safe access to resources, technology is a vital enabler of innovation.

At Vodafone, working with our customers to get the most out of technology and to use it on terms that suit them, remains our biggest area of focus. We believe in helping UK businesses become as successful as they can be through capitalising on innovation.

Competing in an increasingly global world where UK exports account for around £300bn in annual revenues, the UK has a strong history when it comes to innovation. In fact, big businesses rank the UK as the third most innovative region in the world after US and APAC, but more needs to be done if we are to continue at the forefront of world business.

Going forwards, there is every reason to believe that this strong performance can continue, but attention must be paid to make sure that business models are optimised, employees engaged and technology and communication systems exploited so that innovation can flourish.

 To read the Perspective series report on Unlocking Corporate Innovation click here.