UK retailers lagging behind on IT innovation

Retailers in the UK are unwilling to spend money on innovation, and even those that are keen do not think such proposals will make it past the board, according to new research.

The Rimini Street study spoke to 300 senior IT and finance decision makers across Europe across a variety of sectors. Specifically within retail, it found that 27 per cent believe their companies will only plan to spend one to five per cent more on innovation.

Only 32 per cent of retail respondents have already experienced improved productivity as a result of innovation investment – the worst figure of any of the industries surveyed. In fact, retail has the lowest number of respondents (59 per cent) that see increasing spend on innovation as a strategic priority. This compares to the European average of 74 per cent.

For those willing to support innovation, 71 per cent said the board shies away from complex IT transformation projects.

“While there is general agreement that innovation delivers returns in various forms such as market growth and new revenue streams, there is not a precise return model that can predict the actual returns on innovation,” commented professor Ilan Oshri from the School of Management at University of Auckland Business School, who helped analyse the survey results.

“It is not therefore surprising that a decision to invest in revolutionary IT innovations meets a tense board. In particular, there are often different views between the CIO and CFO with regard to the potential and real return of collaborative innovation,” he added.

In the UK, the most respondents (58 per cent) said that Brexit would be the biggest threat to innovation investment, with 78 per cent being worried about how their companies will fund innovation and 70 per cent complaining their organisations spend too much just ‘keeping the lights on’.

“Our survey shows that in Europe 74 per cent of respondents said spending too much keeping the lights on is the primary blocker for innovation, a rather high figure in light of the need to allocate resources to both on-going improvements as well as transformative innovations,” concluded Oshri.

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