Polish Innovation Executives Welcome Fourth Revolution With Positive Realism
GE Innovation Barometer: Curious and optimistic - this is how Polish business executives feel about the prospect of entering the fourth Industrial Revolution. 92% believe that within the next 10 years advanced manufacturing will radically transform the industrial sector.
It is already the fifth edition of the GE Innovation Barometer, and the fourth that includes Poland. In this year’s edition of this global survey conducted by GE between October and December 2015, almost 3,000 top managers in charge of innovation and about 1,400 experts were asked in 23 countries about the effects of digitalization and innovation on their business environment. In Poland, the survey involved 101 top country innovation business executives whose line of work involves taking part in their companies’ innovation process and who are responsible for decisions related to innovation, product development or research and development (R&D) activities.
“The key findings of our already fifth global edition of the GE Innovation Barometer show that both business executives and citizens are optimistic about the digital transformation happening now in the world. Also across Polish businesses, there is an optimistic yet realistic anticipation of the digital and industrial revolution. We all feel the pressure, but excitement and confidence prevail. Certainly, advanced manufacturing will transform the industrial sector, robotics and automation will change the job market and the nature of work, but we at GE are ready for this process. GE is a global innovation leader and all opportunities we offer with our GE Digital platform are groundbreaking,” said Beata Stelmach, President of GE Poland and the Baltics.
Benefits of big data analysis and collaboration
We are all eye witnesses of the digital revolution that will ultimately change the way we live, work and socialize.The speed, scope and impact of the fourth revolution have no historical precedent. Every day billions of people get connected in a global network via mobile devices, taking advantage of free access to various sources of knowledge and information with processing power and storage capacities that seem to have no limits. The acceleration of changes and innovation is hard to comprehend and keep up with even for the best and most well-informed. In such a fast-moving, complex business environment, structured big data analysis is absolutely crucial to maintain a competitive edge and to stay in the game. As GE’s survey reveals, Polish executives are doing well, increasingly recognizing the strategic value of big data analysis. 68% admitted that their companies increased their ability to analyze large and complex amounts of data in order to enhance decision-making and innovate successfully. Moreover, 82% are seeing financial results generated by collaborative innovation activities. It shows that a growing number of Polish companies benefit from innovation-geared partnerships and cooperation initiatives.
Approach to innovation - FOBO and taking a “safe road”
The reality of current business is that only companies that implement disruptive innovation strategies have the chance to stay competitive on the global market. 92% of Polish innovation managers hold the opinion that the most innovative companies not only launch new products and services, but also go further and create new markets that did not exist previously. Most of the respondents also bear in mind the risk of “Digital Darwinism”: 84% worry about being left behind as technology evolves faster than companies can adapt. This state called FOBO, short for “Fear Of Becoming Obsolete”, can be described as simply as “you miss out, you are left out”. Interestingly, despite this common concern that the rate of technological development may surpass the companies’ ability to keep up with adaptation, still 66% of managers favor a “safe” approach. 68% report having a clearly defined innovation strategy favoring incremental innovation and protecting their core businesses rather than implementing breakthrough innovations or launching products that are completely new and may have the ability to disrupt the market. Polish businesses are focused in majority (78%) on organic innovation that leverages existing skills and resources within companies. Risk aversion seem to be on the rise. Meanwhile, 73% of Polish business executives recognize the "start-up" ethos as the role model of an innovation culture for companies of all sizes. So despite facing FOBO, Polish decision-makers lean towards a more conservative approach in their innovation investments keeping out of endeavors of a considerably higher risk factor.
Performance boosters & innovation stoppers
As GE’s survey reveals, 63% of Polish managers declared that perfecting already existing products and services had been the biggest contributor to their companies’ performance over the past few years. Development of more affordable new products and services (56%), advancing in new customer services (47%) and evolving of more sustainable and eco-friendly processes, products or services (43%) were also mentioned as performance boosters. However, there were some significant internal barriers claimed to prevent efficient innovation. The ability to acquire and integrate external innovations into the company as a whole (56%) and the difficulty to define an effective business model to support new ideas and to make them profitable (46%) were declared as major obstacles standing in the way of successful innovation. Polish managers also pointed out the lack of both proper leadership support (30% vs. 14% in 2014) and the inability of businesses to take risks (34% vs. 18% in 2014) as still growing challenges. The lack of sufficient investment and financial support (49%) just added to the full picture. As long as the difficulty to come up with radical and disruptive innovations remains a challenge for many businesses (43%), surveyed executives highlighted that encouraging and rewarding innovative people could be the best practice (51%) helping to overcome the above-mentioned challenges. They also see chances for improvement in creating a culture where idea-sharing is facilitated (44%) and having a clear process and structure in place to manage innovations (43%).
The employee of the future: a creative problem-solver
Emerging new markets providing innovative products and services already strongly influence the profile of the most desired worker. Polish executives now focus on searching for candidates who show creativity (70%) and problem-solving abilities (61%). Along with those features, and more than their peers around the world, they want candidates to also show a willingness to commit to the company in the long term to build their careers (48% vs. 41% globally). At the same time, 67% agree that with digital transformation Poland is observing the rise of “nomad employees”, who do not necessarily seek full-time employment, but favor freelancing or contracting models. This new style of employment may be the result of an inadequate education system that, according to only 38%, is adapted to fulfill the private sectors’ demand for new talents and skills. However, merely 24% assumed that this situation had to increase the businesses’ responsibility to provide educational support to their employees so that they ensure that their skills are always up-to-date.
Who drives Polish innovation?
In the light of the GE Innovation Barometer, innovation in Poland is seen to be driven by the private sector, in particular, by multinational companies investing in Poland (25%), followed by small or medium-sized businesses hiring 10 to 250 people (22%) and start-ups/individual entrepreneurs (20%). Large enterprises based in Poland with 250+ employees play a much smaller role (9%) and are overtaken by universities and research labs (13%). The government is perceived to be driving innovation the most by just 2%, and executives feel that regulations are both preventing the launch (56%) and adoption (55%) of more radical and transformative innovations.
Should the energy sector benefit from digital innovation?
Globally, there is a belief that the energy market can greatly benefit from new innovation approaches. Though the sector itself shows a bit more reserve, in general energy companies are curious and optimistic about entering the fourth revolution. Asked what types of innovations have contributed the most to their companies’ performance in the past few years, managers representing the energy sector listed the following strategies: improvement of existing products/services (57%), development of new processes to improve profitability (50%) and development of more sustainable and eco-friendly processes, services and products. As the most important factors influencing successful implementation of innovations, they mentioned proactive support and commitment to innovation from top management (82%), ability to attract and retain the most talented and skilled individuals (77%) and creation of culture/environment conductive to innovation (76%). In the opinion of Polish decision-makers, investments in the energy sector in our country will primarily contribute to a significant reduction of its carbon footprint (46%). They also believe that not only innovations should improve energy efficiency helping consumers use less and waste less energy (43%), but also energy distribution (34%) and the overall cost of energy will decrease (30%). According to 32% of managers, the future Polish energy market will allow consumers to individually manage their energy consumption. One-fourth (25%) foresee that innovations will increase the energy independence of Poland.
Champions of innovation - image & reality
The GE Innovation Barometer showed also how sometimes the common perception of things may differ from reality. The 3,000 innovation-focused decision-makers surveyed around the world declared the United States (33%) to be the global leader in innovation, followed by Japan (17%) and Germany (10%). Those results become especially interesting when compared with the conclusions of INSEAD’s Global Innovation Index that is headed by Sweden, followed by the US and Germany, whereas Japan ranks only seventh on that list.
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About the GE Innovation Barometer
The GE Global Innovation Barometer (GE GIB) is an international opinion survey of senior innovation executives all actively engaged in the management of their firms’ innovation strategies. The fifth survey of the GE GIB was conducted between October and December 2015 across 23 countries and 10 sectors involving 2,748 Innovation Business Executives, of which 1,915 were C-suite. In addition, the fifth GE GIB also surveyed the views of 1,346 members of the informed public in 13 countries. In Poland, 101 Innovation Business Executives answered the questions of the GE GIB survey. The GE Global Innovation Barometer explores how the perception of innovation is changing in a complex, globalized environment and how managers perceive the framework for innovation developed in their countries.
General Electric (GE) is the world’s leading digital industrial company, transforming industry with software-defined machines and solutions that are connected, responsive and predictive. Listed by Forbes as the world’s ninth most valuable brand in 2015, GE is present in 175 countries, employing more than 300,000 workers all over the world.
About GE in Poland
GE entered the Polish market in 1992 as one of the first global corporations that wished to participate in building the new economy in Poland after its political and economic transformation in the early 1990s. Now GE employs over 12,000 people, including 6,500 in the industrial sector, and manages 8 plants: 3 factories specializing in production of Electric products (in Kłodzko, Łódź and Bielsko-Biała), 2 factories specializing in making parts for airplanes (in Dzierżonów and Bielsko-Biała) and 3 factories of GE Power (a turbine production plant and foundry in Elbląg and a generators production plant in Wrocław). GE in Poland supplies the global market, exporting 90% of manufactured products. Since 1992 the company has invested in Poland USD 670 mln million with annual investments on R&D reaching USD 100 million.