By Claire West

The world’s most innovative companies not only permit failure, but welcome and harness it to craft more successful ideas, according to Cultivating business-led innovation, an Economist Intelligence Unit report, sponsored by Oracle.

Yet nearly half of respondents to the EIU’s global survey for this report say their companies have no system in place that helps them learn from failures.

Highly innovative companies also actively gather feedback and ideas from everywhere they can. Fifty-four percent of the top innovators we surveyed said they pour over customer comments, whether gathered in direct interviews or on social networks, and scrutinise customer data for clues to effective future innovations.

They recognise that collecting many ideas is the first step to identifying the great ones.

Other key findings include:

• Many companies are not effectively capitalising on internal resources that might foster innovation. Successful innovators welcome ideas from employees in every department. But creating this kind of openness is a major challenge for many companies, especially larger firms, which are more likely to silo their innovation than smaller firms. IT departments, in particular, tend to be underutilised; more than half of survey respondents (51%) said the primary responsibility of their IT department is to implement innovations. Yet the IT function has the potential to generate innovations of its own, educate staff about key new technologies and scout for innovators inside the company.
• Leading companies take advantage of disruptive new technologies. Survey respondents said big data and social media offered the greatest opportunity for company innovation. But executives said a lack of knowledge of how best to leverage the technologies, and thorny security concerns, remain challenges. Only a handful of executives in our survey (15%) said they are unhindered in embracing these technology trends.

Cultivating business-led innovation is available free of charge at