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Where Should Companies Innovate? In Their Enterprises.

Olympus survey shows Fortune 1000 executives see opportunity for corporate investment in enterprise innovation

CENTER VALLEY, Pa., (October 19, 2010) – Olympus Corporation of the Americas (www.olympusamerica.com) today released findings from a Harris Interactive survey of Fortune 1000 executives concerning enterprise innovation – defined as the transformative business processes, practices, organizational planning and models that enable a business of any size to operate more effectively, profitably and/or competitively. The findings identify potential investment areas to help business leaders improve their prospects as the economy restarts.

Enterprise Innovation First; Business Invention Will Follow
The vast majority of executives say enterprise innovation is extremely or very important for driving business growth (95 percent), profitability (94 percent), attracting and keeping talent (86 percent), and brand prestige (85 percent) – and more than four in five (85 percent) believe it is a prerequisite for product innovation.

However, more than half of executives (60 percent) say their company typically focuses more on product innovation than overall enterprise innovation. Forty-seven percent report that their company has no team, process or system for vetting new ideas in order to decide which ones to invest in. Moreover, only a minority report that their company promotes enterprise innovation by providing funding (37 percent) or access to educational (38 percent) or idea-sharing (35 percent) forums, and only one in three (34 percent) report that they have a team specifically dedicated to brainstorming new ideas. 

“The Olympus survey points to enterprise innovation as a sound place to deploy the saved-up resources – financial and human capital – that companies large and small have held back due to today’s economic climate,” says F. Mark Gumz, president and CEO of Olympus Corporation of the Americas. “The opportunity is clear: invest in your enterprise. Holding back dynamic talent and the funding, tools and resources they need to succeed is the wrong move for business. Even at the risk of failure, business leaders should invest in creating an environment that encourages employees to try new ideas and strategies.”

CEOs Play Critical Role
According to the survey, executives say CEOs play a critical role in defining and supporting their company’s overall innovation strategy. For innovation to prosper, they say, CEOs must provide greater leadership, tools, and financial as well as non-financial support. Executives specifically called for their CEOs to:

  • Create a culture that encourages innovation even at the risk of initial failure (92 percent);
  • Allocate budget to innovation initiatives (78 percent);
  • Reward innovation with financial incentives (70 percent);
  • Reward innovation with recognition or other non-financial incentives (72 percent);
  • Lead by example and personally participate in enterprise innovation processes (70 percent); and,
  • Provide tools to promote innovation (55 percent).

“The survey findings are a timely reminder to make enterprise innovation core to your leadership agenda,” says Gumz. “Don’t forget that the most important byproduct of Ford’s Model T was the assembly line production method, and Edison’s light bulb would not have succeeded without the development of an electricity grid that delivered power to homes and businesses. Put differently, inventions – such as product and service creation – also require innovative underpinnings that begin with a corporate culture that accepts risk and reward opportunities and that will radiate through your company.”

Improved Business Operation is the Foundation for Future Creation
To achieve optimal product innovation, the overall survey findings suggest that companies must first develop or improve operations and processes that can serve as the foundation for their creations. Yet more than half of executives (53 percent) say their company does not focus enough on enterprise innovation, citing pressures to achieve short-term goals, other goals taking priority, and/or lack of incentives to inspire or reward enterprise innovation. Specifically, executives say the barriers to enterprise innovation include:

  • Pressure to meet short-term goals and achieve quick results (64 percent);
  • Other business goals or objectives taking priority (61 percent);
  • Lack of systems or tools for fostering enterprise innovation (31 percent);
  • Lack of incentives to inspire or reward enterprise innovation (36 percent);
  • Insufficient resources to enable high-quality human capital to focus on innovation (29 percent); and,
  • Lack of support from senior leadership (19 percent). 

“Leaders have the opportunity to remove all of these barriers to enterprise innovation and inspire and support the change management necessary to make that happen,” notes Gumz. “At Olympus, for example, we’ve added a question to our mid-year review process centering on the innovative processes an individual or department created in the prior period.  We’re asking why ideas didn’t work (as well as why they did), so we can reduce the innovation inhibitors.”

IT Leads Enterprise Innovation; Marketing, Sales and Customer Service Ripe for Innovation
Information technology (IT) is viewed as having been the most innovative function within executives’ own companies during the past 10 years (44 percent), and by far the most likely focal point for investment (60 percent) and continued innovation (63 percent) over the next two years. Many executives also report that marketing, sales, customer service, outsourcing, and supply chain management have been innovative in the past decade, and that they will invest in these areas in the next two years.

Olympus Corporation of the Americas initiated the Enterprise Innovation survey with Harris Interactive as a means to surface news ideas and dialogue surrounding innovation in business. For more information see www.olympusamerica.com/innovation.

 About Olympus
Olympus is a precision technology leader, designing and delivering innovative solutions in its core business areas: Medical and Surgical Products, Life Science Imaging Systems, Industrial Measurement and Imaging Instruments and Cameras and Audio Products.
 
Olympus works collaboratively with its customers and affiliates worldwide to leverage R&D investment in precision technology and manufacturing processes across diverse business lines. These include:

  • Gastrointestinal endoscopes, accessories, and minimally invasive surgical products;
  • Advanced research, clinical and educational microscopes and research and educational digital imaging systems;
  • Industrial research, engineering, test, inspection and measuring instruments; and
  • Digital cameras and voice recorders.

Olympus serves the healthcare field with integrated product solutions and financial, educational and consulting services that help customers to efficiently, reliably and more easily achieve exceptional results. Olympus develops breakthrough technologies with revolutionary product design and functionality for the consumer and professional photography markets, and also is the leader in gastrointestinal endoscopy and clinical and educational microscopes. For more information, visit www.olympusamerica.com.

About Harris Interactive
Harris Interactive is one of the world's leading custom market research firms, leveraging research, technology, and business acumen to transform relevant insight into actionable foresight. Known widely for The Harris Poll and for pioneering innovative research methodologies, Harris offers expertise in a wide range of industries including healthcare, technology, public affairs, energy, telecommunications, financial services, insurance, media, retail, restaurant, and consumer package goods. Serving clients in over 215 countries and territories through our North American, European, and Asian offices and a network of independent market research firms, Harris specializes in delivering research solutions that help us - and our clients - stay ahead of what's next. For more information, please visit www.harrisinteractive.com.

Media Contacts
Jennifer Lyons, Olympus, (484) 896-5350, jennifer.lyons@olympus.com
Meredith Klein, GolinHarris, (212) 373-6022, mklein@golinharris.com

About the Survey
All data collection was conducted online by Harris Interactive® on behalf of Olympus Corporation of the Americas between July 6 and 16, 2010 among 304 Fortune 1000 executives. Final data are weighted to be representative of the population of F1000 executives in the United States based on: annual revenue; number of employees; and Fortune 1000 rank.