There's no denying that the internet has levelled the business playing field, with cost-effective and scalable solutions such as hosted office phone systems empowering small enterprises to compete against their larger and more established industry rivals.
While such technology is certainly helpful for streamlining work processes and helping companies respond to shifts in the economic climate, true innovation is a little more encompassing. So, what does this concept entail and what can you do to cultivate more of it in your business?
|What does innovation mean to you?|
Innovation is an incredibly broad concept that covers many aspects of modern commerce. Business.gov.au explained that at its heart, innovation is all about exploring new ideas to provide clients with a better offering while boosting your company's productivity and performance. This might involve rolling out new work processes, developing new products or services, or enhancing current elements of your enterprise.
As you might imagine, there's no one-size-fits-all approach, so it's important to consider the specific needs and wants of your customers before implementing any overarching changes. For example, customer-oriented enterprises might want to consider leveraging a communications system that allows them to provide a higher quality service, while more internally facing businesses could consider adopting a work from home policy to give their employees the creative freedom they need to harness further innovation.
How innovative are Australian companies?
As touched on, innovation is perhaps the most critical aspect of modern business, and Australian enterprises big and small need to be embracing the concept in order to compete on a global scale. So, just how innovative are we?
Well, according to figures collated by the Australian Bureau of Statistics, around 42 per cent of businesses reported undertaking innovative activity in 2012-13, down by around 5 per cent from a year earlier.
Interestingly, the research also showed that businesses with a workforce numbering 200 or more were about twice as likely to be innovation-active as companies with four or fewer employees. This disproves the commonly held notion that large companies are unable to think outside the box, and highlights the need for enterprises of all sizes to think about how they can unlock greater innovation.
In an effort to facilitate an even more forward-thinking Australian business culture, the government recently announced an initiative that will encourage innovation and entrepreneurship in enterprises across the country.
What is the innovation plan all about?
As the Sydney Morning Herald reported, the Australian government has launched an innovation plan, which will see $1.1 billion allocated to a number of key departments over the next four years, with the overall aim of encouraging research, development and digital literacy.
Around $200 million will be dedicated to revamping the CSIRO Innovation Fund, which invests in promising start-up and spin-off businesses, while a further $127 million will be spent on supporting university research. In addition, $84 million will be used to stimulate Australians' passion in science, technology, engineering, maths and digital industries.
CIO.com.au noted that investors will enjoy their share of $106 million in tax incentives, which will help offset some of the risks involved in supporting new and often unpredictable ventures.
Minister for Industry, Innovation and Science Christopher Pyne was optimistic about the plan's effects on the economy.
"If you start a new venture and it doesn't succeed, you may have lost some money and investors lost some money, but overall the economy massively benefits because you are all wiser, and the ecosystem benefits," said Mr Pyne.
"This cultural change is so important because we have to be prepared to embrace risk and innovation."
Developing a forward-thinking business culture is no easy feat, but it appears as though the government is doing all it can to help support Australian achieve this. To find out how a small enterprise VoIP phone system could help you unlock more innovation in your company, get in touch with us today.