The Need To Innovate

Innovation is the central issue in economic prosperity” (Michael Porter)

We often tend to gloss over the word ‘innovation’ because it seems too broad and overused. Marketing campaigns are perhaps guilty of using this word too much without backing it up as to why innovation is so great. Innovation is essentially all about changing it up. Thinking about how to do things differently to (hopefully) produce a greater outcome. If there’s anything to say on this, it’s that the UK needs more of it.

Granted, there are many businesses out there that are innovating like mad. However, according to the UK Innovation Survey in 2017 carried out by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, the report points to the fact that we aren’t innovating nearly as much as we should be. That goes for larger companies as well as SMEs. This is a concern for us at Totem Learning Ltd because we are a small company based in Coventry dealing in rather big ideas. We create award-winning games to develop skills using the latest technology in the field of AR, VR, MR and XR. For us, innovation is a key component of our business and it ought to be for every business regardless of the industry it happens to be situated in.    

Out of the 13,194 UK enterprises used to collect the data, the overall conclusion was that “the proportion of innovation active businesses has fallen in nearly every industry”. Out of these businesses, the SMEs were innovating even less compared to the larger ones with 63% of large firms being innovation active, compared to 49% of SMEs. This has likely contributed to the closure of smaller companies who aren’t performing well enough to meet demands or compete in the wider market. There are many schemes in place to promote entrepreneurship and get young people into business but are we preparing them for the reality? The idea of running your own business is glamorous but when faced with statistics like this, I do wonder if those rose-tinted spectacles will suddenly come off. If we are to encourage entrepreneurship, we need to encourage innovation from the very start. Push people to think 'outside the box', let them come up with new ways of solving a problem and perhaps using real case studies. This is far more effective than allowing them to believe they have the skills when they are still only just in the early stages of developing them.   

The report also suggests that “innovators were more likely to export than non-innovators” which proves crucial in maintaining and improving future relations with global markets and outreach. Totem Learning works with clients all over the world and continues to establish a strong relationship based on trust in our service and overall product satisfaction. The need to cater for each organisation we work with is essential and something we do happily in order to make our games as universal as possible. Our consultation service is a key part of this. We question and challenge everything in order to produce a result that with solid foundations and we believe it is within this creative process that innovation thrives. The UK market itself has to compete with countries who are innovating at a higher rate than us. These countries have booming industry and so, in order to compete, we must push ourselves to deliver something original and exciting. Even with such great ideas, it's often the case that those ideas aren't ever pursued or able to be pursued. Innovation in business strategy, marketing campaigns, sales strategy, budgeting and far more are all examples of places where innovation needs to happen within a business.  

In addition to this, the survey noted that the biggest drive to innovate was caused by the desire to continue “improving quality of goods or services and replacing outdated products or processes” across both the larger businesses and SMEs. However, the constraints pointed in the direction of a lack of available budget as well as a lack of qualified personnel. The survey suggested that the more qualified members of staff, the more innovative the business was. Our ‘off the shelf’ games help an individual develop the desired soft skills needed in the professional environment which increases their chance at employability. It is important for all employees to have a good standard of industry knowledge because having expertise in a particular field means that innovation comes perhaps more naturally and a solution can be reached more quickly. Being able to have several educated minds tackling a problem means ideas can be bounced back and forth, a good starting point for innovation.    

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