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    Too many companies miss business opportunities, says SHAMUS KELLY , because they are simply unaware of their own innovative strengths.


    You’d be surprised, insists Shamus Kelly, just how many companies simply don’t know the full extent of the skill and expertise they’ve got hidden within the ranks of their own employees –and fewer still who realise how to exploit that hidden treasure.

    As Managing Director of the Berkshire-based Portal consultancy, its Kelly’s business to help companies of all sizes harness leading-edge technology to leverage their own internal and external collaborative strengths.


    Companies unwittingly deny themselves access to innovative ideas, he finds, because of “siloed thinking – it’s somebody else’s function”. A recent Portal survey of UK businesses found that less than 2% of turnover was being attributed to R&D or innovation. More worryingly, approaching a third didn’t see themselves in “ideas development” at all.


    “The last number I saw ranked the UK 18th globally in percentage of spend devoted to innovation,” he reports. “That’s less than Belgium and France and quite substantially less than the US and Israel. The bottom line is that, if you don’t know what skills and capabilities you’ve got, you’re cutting off your access to ideas and limiting the potential of your business.”


    Three factors, he says, help to ensure that innovation becomes “part of everyday activity rather than something that sits in a corner”:


    Culture: “You have to be completely open about embracing change and about extending information-exchange across the company.”
    Leadership: “You need an executive team that appreciates this isn’t simply a nice-to-have. We always look for an MD who’s seriously committed.”
    Familiarity: “People are so used to internet technologies that it’s so much easier than, say, ten years ago to cut to the chase and innovate in a sophisticated way.”


    Any business that isn’t yet enabling its people to feel comfortable with its internal technology by mirroring the platforms and tools they use externally is seriously missing out, Kelly argues. Some sectors – travel and transport, pharmaceuticals, finance and insurance, retail – are “very tuned-in to collaborative innovation”.


    Others have a way to go. “Central and local government, for example, which has tended to be fairly traditionalist at times in its approach to administrative innovation, is now rapidly coming to grips with the use of collaborative tools as a way of enabling the merger of multiple departments to support policy initiatives. It’s really interesting, positive and hugely innovative.


    “In transport, for instance, a leading logistics firm has been at the forefront in using these collaborative tools. They’ve gone from a ‘name-and-phone number’ mentality to building a ‘Workbench’ to link their people in disparate global locations by highlighting detailed personal profiles – photos, hobbies, interests, educational qualifications, specialist subjects, language facilities. They capture all the skills you wouldn’t normally know about. They really do find their own experts.


    “And this isn’t just for the very large international corporations. We think there’s real opportunity, too, for smaller businesses with anything from 50 people up to 1,000 people, based here in the UK. There’s a lot that they can do to open themselves up to the ideas and talent they have in their company and direct that towards the innovative development of their business.”

12/3/2020 6:42:14 AM