Global leadership organisation YPO has recently conducted a survey of its members in over 130 countries to get their latest thoughts on innovation and its implications for the future of their businesses.

YPO’s 2019 Global Pulse Innovation Survey, conducted between 29 April through 6 May 2019 with more than 1,600 chief executive respondents, confirmed that the majority of global business leaders (57%) feel an urgent need to innovate now.

Where do they look to find inspiration to innovate? Their customers.

Nearly half of global business leaders cited customers as their top source of innovation inspiration (48%) with employees (36%) ranking second. Consultants (10%) and think tanks (7%) lag far behind in the minds of respondents.

The importance of keeping this key constituency happy is a focal point with nearly one in five respondents citing customer experience as their primary business area most needing innovation now. This ranks ahead of products, data/business intelligence and technology.

According to additional YPO Global Pulse findings, location, geographic location, industry, company size, and length of job tenure greatly inform business leaders’ opinions and go-forward innovation action plans:

  • While the need to innovate is a top priority for global business leaders, only 4 in 10 strongly believe they have the appetite for experimentation.
    • While 57% of chief executives strongly believe there is an urgent need for their business to be innovative, more than one-third of this group (37%) indicated they are not likely to invest in innovation over the next 12 months.
    • Industry plays a significant role in business leaders’ attitudes toward risk in business with those executives in the IT & Software, Health Care and Advertising & Marketing industries embracing risk (more than 55% have an appetite for experimentation and risk) while leaders in the Distribution, Automotive and Apparel industries are more risk-averse (only 35% have an appetite for experimentation and risk).
  • Over the next 12 months, global business leaders who are extremely likely to invest will be doing so in products (45%), internal processes (44%) and respondents in Africa (45%) cited their spend will be focused on product innovation.
    • Business leaders in Latin America (26%) and Asia (19%) are more likely to invest in business model innovation compared to their peers in the United States (16%) and Canada (13%).
    • US-based business leaders (34%) are slightly more likely to invest in talent compared to all others (29%).
    • Leaders who have been at the helm three years or less are less likely to invest in talent (26%) compared to those who have been at the helm longer (32%).
    • Leaders of larger organisations ($250 million+) indicate that innovation investment in the next 12 months will be targeted toward data/business intelligence (47%), while leaders of $25-250 million businesses plan to invest in technology (42%).
    • Leaders of smaller organisations ($25 million or less) reported they will be focusing their spend in the next 12 months on product innovation (45%).
  • UK respondents (43%) were much more likely than their European peers (31%) to strongly agree that changing market conditions are redefining their business.
  • Business leaders in Latin America (19%) and Asia (15%) are more concerned that technology changes are making their business model obsolete, especially when compared to their peers in Europe (9%) and the United States (7%).
  • Leaders of large organisations ($250 million+) cited new competitors threatening their traditional business model as a strong concern, well more than chief executives of smaller businesses (27% for large companies compared to 19% for all others).
  • Chief executives who have been at the helm of their business one year or less believe their competitors are innovating faster than they are (18%), especially when compared to all executives (6%).
  • Regionally, chief executives in the Middle East/North Africa region (10%) and Asia (9%) are more likely to strongly believe their competitors are innovating faster compared to leaders across all regions (6%).

The YPO 2019 Global Pulse Innovation Survey of its members was conducted by YPO from 29 April – 6 May via an online questionnaire with a representative probability sample of 1,661 YPO members.

The sample included members in 105 countries and representing 34 industry sectors. The questionnaire was in English. The margin of sampling error is plus or minus 2.3 percentage points at the 95% confidence level.