When innovators stumble

When innovators stumble

A report on global innovation trends reveals a huge gap in companies' ability to be innovative.

A report on global innovation trends reveals a huge gap in companies' ability to be innovative. The survey of 261 executives worldwide - published by the Economist Intelligence Unit in its report, "The Innovators: How successful companies drive business transformation" - found that 70 per cent of companies consider innovation to be critical or important to maintaining their competitiveness, but that it is easier for some than others. The EIU reports that 90 per cent of the top-performing companies describe themselves as successful or very successful at pushing innovation in new-product development, but only 33 per cent of the less successful firms do so. Similarly, 88 per cent of the most successful companies succeed at pushing customer service innovation, compared to only 36 per cent of less successful firms. Some 60 per cent of survey respondents report a shortfall of ideas in their innovation pipeline, which was attributed to resistance to change, shifting strategic priorities and a lack of project ownership. The report can be downloaded free at

Focus on sales professionals

Bannister Brunner Recruitment, a Brisbane firm specialising in recruitment for the advertising, marketing and communications sectors, has established a division specialising in the recruitment of sales staff. BBR's founders, managing partners Anne Bannister and Vicki Brunner, are former advertising agency account directors. They are unfazed by the timing of their new business unit, noting that they started BBR in the middle of a recruitment downturn in 2000. Alexander MacKelden, who heads the sales recruitment division, also downplays the slowdown. "Tough economic times might be ahead but this simply underlines the importance of attracting only the best-fit candidates for our clients," he says.

Scobie scoops Tas commerce role

Tasmanian businessman Andrew Scobie has been elected the new chairman of the Tasmanian Chamber of Commerce and Industry. At the top of Scobie's agenda is the creation of a business environment in Tasmania that is "more competitive than the rest of the nation", along with reducing the island-state's reliance on federal funding. "Tasmania is the net recipient of a $600 million subsidy from the rest of Australia. There is an inherent risk in an economy that relies on the charity of others for its own survival," Scobie says. "I have a long-term goal to ensure Tasmania is put on a path of regional economic independence. This will guarantee that our destiny is in our own hands. We need to show that the Tasmanian economic tiger is not extinct." Scobie succeeds businessman and philanthropist Michael Kent, who retired as TCCI chairman in September.

Down but not out

The confidence of the recruitment sector is at a seven-year low, according to the latest quarterly industry survey by the Recruitment & Consulting Services Association. The survey of its corporate members in Australia and New Zealand found that the number of recruitment firms expecting business to increase in the next three months has dropped from 71 per cent to 58 per cent. It's the lowest figure since the survey's inception in 2001. RCSA chief executive Julie Mills says the results reflect broader business sentiment, with 84 per cent of respondents listing the state of the economy as the recruitment industry's biggest problem. However, predicting that "the skills shortage is certainly not going away any time soon", Mills says the demand for talent will provide a buffer to the slowing economy. "While the boom of the past few years may be over, recruiters will still be busy finding talent for employers in coming months," Mills says.

Not ready to move on

A national survey of 600 employees and 150 employers by human resources consultant Mercer found that more than 40 per cent of employees aged 50 and over don't know how much they will need in retirement. One in four expect to delay retirement until their 70s. "The impact of recent stockmarket declines on baby boomers' superannuation means that traditional retirement is not an option," Mercer principal David Anderson says. "Instead, they're looking to their employer for practical help in preparing for retirement - and for employers that means facilitating financial advice and education as well as flexible working arrangements." Mercer's 2008 "Benefits outside the square" study says nearly 50 per cent of employees aged 50-plus are dissatisfied with their employee benefits, making them the most unhappy employee demographic. When these employees were asked how their employer could best help them prepare for retirement, financial advice, guidance and education topped the list - but only 28 per cent of employers are providing that assistance. Another complaint is the lack of discussion between employees and employers on succession. Employees want to reduce the number of hours they work while continuing to receive an income, Anderson says, but 86 per cent of employees aged 50-plus have not discussed this with their employer.

Fairfax Business Media

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