Microsoft is recommending a strategic framework that organizations can adopt across People, Technology, Processes and Data in order to survive.

Innovation is no longer a luxury—it has to form the core part of every business’ DNA. That is the message that technology giant Microsoft wants to spread to the world, after commissioning a study with IDC to understand how business sentiments in the Asia Pacific region (APAC).

In identifying how four critical dimensions—people, technology, data and processes—share a synergy that can make digitalization relevant, the firm has used the study findings to propose a cultural framework for corporations that in the process of continual digitally transformation, to build on the technological footing to achieve business resilience and recover well beyond the pandemic.

Specifically, the Culture of Innovation framework encourages organizations to:

  1. Invest in people’s capabilities and skills
    Create an open and inclusive environment to attract talent. Integrate workplace innovation efforts that will be crucial to accelerate transformation, ensuring the right rewards and incentives to encourage innovation and upskilling to sustain the pace of innovation, by unlocking people’s capabilities.
  2. Fortify resilience with technology
    Strengthen the organization’s approach to digital transformation through resilient technologies allowing simplification, flexibility, and agility—cloud, AI and machine learning. At the same time, ensure that cybersecurity is infused into the organization’s digital footprint.
  3. Leverage data to increase competitiveness
    Capitalize on the value of data through developing new data-driven products and services as well as revenue streams for an organization’s competitiveness. Data-driven insights should be leveraged for enterprise-wide collaboration and decision-making to institute a knowledge-sharing culture.
  4. Redesign processes to empower people to continuously drive innovation
    Create a systematic approach to drive innovation—from ideation to commercialization—and establish a centralized digital transformation budget, along with digital KPIs. Customer centricity should be at the heart of continuous improvements, and a feedback loop is necessary to capture learnings on an ongoing basis.

The role of organizational maturity

The Culture of Innovation framework also uses organization maturity as a gauge of the approach to innovation. Through the study, organizations’ performance was mapped against the four dimensions (people, processes, data, and technology), grouped into four maturity stages—traditionalist (stage 1), novice (stage 2), adaptor (stage 3), and leaders (stage 4). Leaders are organizations that are the most mature in building a culture of

When the pandemic hit, organizations were forced to adapt to new conditions with agility, with some recognizing that innovating (presumably in an existential ‘do or die’ scenario) was easier than they had thought. Since the peak of the pandemic, the number of leaders and organizations that found innovation difficult had dropped from 68% to 36% and 74% to 54% respectively, 

The faster pace of digitization was also key to building stronger organizations. The study found that 87% of leaders intended to speed up digitization by launching initiatives including digital products, payments, and e-commerce, as compared to 67% of other organizations, in response to the new reality.

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Leaders of the culture of innovation model were also further along in rethinking business models, as it was the top strategy they enacted to remain resilient and to respond to the new market conditions… while their other counterparts were only ‘just planning’ to do so

Moving forward, the surveyed leaders said they will focus on investing in technology infrastructure that is robust and allows scalability and flexibility, as well as on upskilling and reskilling their workforce to ensure business resilience and performance for the future.

According to Ahmed Mazhari, President, Microsoft Asia, people are the lifeblood of innovative organizations. Business leaders are recognizing the integral relationship between investing in the workforce and having a robust technological foundation and strategy—with 27% and 34% of organizations respectively prioritizing people and technology in the next 12 months.

“To succeed in the new normal and drive digital transformation, we not only need to have a robust digital foundation, we also need to ensure our people have the skills and tools to work together to drive disruption. Ultimately, such a culture of innovation will ensure a more resilient and inclusive future for all organizations,” Mazhari said.