Innovation a matter of 'life and death' for firms

21 June 2006
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22 June 2006

Innovate or fail, was the message to delegates at this year's CIPS Premier Conference.

Ian Pearson, a futurologist at BT, was one of the keynote speakers at "Connect, Create & Innovate: How procurement can drive through change".

He told the audience: "The five-year plan is dead. You need agility because your business will not be the same in five years' time. If you stay doing what you're doing for five minutes you go out of business, so you have to adapt and innovate continuously."

John Bessant, professor of innovation and technology management at Imperial College London, agreed. In his presentation he said: "Innovation matters.

It's a survival imperative. If we don't change what we offer the world and the way we offer it - processes - it's life and death as far as the business goes."

He stressed that having an idea is great but it's not innovation, it's simply the start of a journey. Bessant added that the best ideas are not always new ones, they could be old ideas with a new twist or a mix of existing concepts.

"We should be like magpies, stealing all the best bits," said speaker Bob Brimson, consultant director of creative services at Universal Music Group.

Bessant said it was important to track knowledge and expertise internally and externally and to draw on it for innovation.

Guy Browning, author and creative director of Smokehouse Innovation Consultancy, told delegates: "If you want to think differently you need to talk to different people."

Richard Potter, former head of business processes at QinetiQ, agreed: "While it is good to have experts, the problem is that people don't feel they can question them. We need people who ask, 'Why is this this way?'"

Bessant discussed making connections with colleagues, suppliers and other firms, and "open source" innovation where companies can exchange ideas.

Speakers said procurement was in a strong position to form and build these relationships.

Presenter Dick Russill added: "Procurement spans across the company and can act as a catalyst towards increased profitability."


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