Culture of Innovation Becomes a “Must” for HK Companies

Image credit: iStockphoto/CASEZY

COVID-19 has made having a culture of innovation a business necessity for Hong Kong companies.

It is the conclusion from a recent Microsoft-IDC study that examined the culture of innovation.

The study, titled “Culture of Innovation: Foundation for business resilience and economic recovery in the Asia Pacific,” found that 68% of Hong Kong organizations have accelerated digitalization in different ways.

While this is a common conclusion in other studies, what is new is that 55% of business decision-makers also saw innovation as a ‘must’ for business resilience.

This means Hong Kong businesses see innovation as central to their business model to survive and thrive post-pandemic.

“Hong Kong organizations boast a constant appetite for growth and evolution. The experience of COVID-19 has made this evident, with almost half of businesses (48%) predicting their business model will lose competitiveness in five years’ time, while over half say innovation is a ‘must’ and is vital to performance and resilience. Hong Kong’s desire and urgency for continuous improvement will ensure the success of businesses in this new normal,” said Cally Chan, general manager of Microsoft Hong Kong and Macau, in a report.

A third (34%) of organizations in Hong Kong viewed COVID-19 as an opportunity. The study noted that these organizations are expected to perform better than their counterparts. They are 1.3 times more confident they will recover their businesses within 3 months and 3.3 times more optimistic of growing revenue despite the crisis.

“Over half of these organizations said such confidence stems from the ability to innovate. This demonstrates that innovation is the key differentiator and Hong Kong organizations have the potential to further develop and embrace a culture of innovation to accelerate their transformation,” explained Victor Lim, vice president for consulting operations at IDC Asia/Pacific.

The study found that in six months, organizations in Hong Kong have seen an 8% increase in innovation maturity, an indication that they have increased their ability to innovate. In comparison, organizations in the Asia Pacific saw an 11% growth in the culture of innovation maturity.

Hong Kong companies are more mature than the Asia Pacific average across all dimensions of the culture of innovation except Technology. But, the same companies can further improve on Technology and People which are the weakest dimensions in the culture of innovation across the Asia Pacific.

When asked about their priorities for the next 12 months ahead, organizations in Hong Kong indicated that they will focus on people (35%) as the most essential for business resilience and recovery.

Moving forward, Hong Kong organizations’ top long-term strategies for future-proofing business include having a strong corporate vision, clear direction and agile decision making from leadership, and instilling a corporate culture and mindset that embraces risks and ambiguity.

One such company is Gammon Construction, which is reinventing itself with a transformation program across the entire organization, including all of its construction sites across the city.

Besides using Microsoft Teams for all communications, the construction giant created the “G7”, an internal steering committee to drive innovation and cultural change.

“We have taken a three-point strategy to ensure innovation culture and new processes are deeply embedded. The first is a top-down ‘train the trainer’ approach to upskill and implement Information Managers across the organization. We also identified high-potential junior talents who are curious and tech-savvy to drive change. Lastly, we make all new technology user-friendly and value-oriented. Culture change requires ongoing, consistent effort — encouraging collaboration is also a key part of our strategy, and Microsoft Teams has really helped us break down siloes to help every worker do their job easier and ultimately better,” said James Thompson, head of digital at Gammon Construction.

Image credit: iStockphoto/CASEZY