The green shoots of innovation amid adversity

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The green shoots of innovation amid adversity
Despite the lag with global peers, COVID-19 did little to dampen enthusiasm for innovation.
Photo by CardMapr.nl on Unsplash

Innovation is not new, it’s always been a constant.

As organisations adapted to COVID-19 and the quickened pace of digital innovation, they were armed with an awakened awareness of how innovation plays out within their own organisation.

In positive news, around half (47%) of Australian companies increased investment in innovation during COVID-19 which is much higher than the global benchmark (42%). Not surprisingly, Australian organisations and their leaders are actively innovative and are exhibiting the five key traits of global innovators; digital agility, surround-sound analytics, ironclad data security, strategic investing and customer proximity. Australian leaders explicitly include innovation among their strategic objectives, with the tack taken by 68% of AU-NZ organisations. Innovation leaders also devote resources, structure, and capital towards discovery. Become 2021, sponsored by Mastercard and powered by the Harvard Business Review Analytic Services Business Innovators Index, provides a roadmap for businesses around the world to spark innovation.

We increased innovation investment in our Global Tech Hub here in Sydney last year. We increased resources in digital capabilities, tokenisation, cybersecurity, processing, data and analytics, artificial intelligence, blockchain and digital identity solutions. With innovation happening onshore here in Australia we can support the Australian business sector across the spectrum of emerging FinTech, traditional banks, retailers and government. An example of this is our investment in Australian FinTech mx51. Mx51 was part of our global FinTech accelerator program ‘Start Path’ which includes other Australian alumni of Airwallex, Meeco, Identitii, etc.

Investing the Innovation Dollars:

Innovation is integral to business success. Following the pandemic, the scale that innovation can provide through digital connections is more exponential than ever. And while the number of Australian organisations investing in innovation last year was far higher than the global benchmark – were businesses aligned with what Australian consumers want in terms of their investments in innovation?

The Become index answers that question — spoiler alert — there is misalignment on where Australian organisations are investing versus the needs of consumers. 

Our report revealed that 80% of AU-NZ consumers agree it is important that the companies they buy from are using secure technology to make their privacy ironclad. Yet, among AU-NZ organisations, only 35% have invested or will invest in data privacy and cyber security management to improve CX in the next 12 months

Consumers in Australia are much more discerning with their data than global consumers, not liking their personal information to be shared for any reason (38% of AU-NZ consumers, versus 23% of global), so it is critical that organisations locally create trust in the customer experience, and more broadly where they are investing to remain innovative.

We have long understood that not all customers like to store their sensitive information online. Our latest research revealed that 47% feel safer saving their card information in one place like a digital wallet, instead of individually with merchants. Which is why we have invested in delivering a best-in-class tokenisation security solution where card credentials are not shared with the merchant. Such types of innovation are important investments for businesses as they look to remain innovative and create a safe and secure environment for their customers.

The race to innovate

Beyond security, when comparing our local findings from the report to the global findings, local organisations lagged their global peers in a number of other critical areas. One of these areas is measuring the actual impact of innovation on business performance (55% of AU-NZ organisations, versus 66% of global), recognising employees when they innovate (37% AU-NZ vs 47% global) and establishing a central hub for innovation within the organisation (53% AU-NZ vs 60% global).

By creating a Global Tech Hub in Sydney in 2018, we have increased our speed to market on innovation. We now onboard new FinTech customers with digital first capabilities in a matter of weeks where previously the processes were staged and took several months. We are also using our Labs as a Service to co-create unique services with clients to meet the needs of Australian consumers, businesses, and government. And our scale up program ‘Start Path’ was recently announced as the world’s best FinTech Accelerator program by the International Chamber of Commerce.

Despite the lag with global peers, COVID-19 did little to dampen enthusiasm for innovation for local organisations. In addition to possessing many of the five key traits of innovation leaders, Australian organisations are investing in new technologies and data sources to listen and respond to fast-changing customer needs. The pandemic didn’t sway local organisations to abandon this path; they were emboldened to stay the course, or even accelerate their pace at times.

Armed with the insights from the report and a commitment to innovation, Australian organisations will be well prepared to take their innovation capabilities to the next level.

Kallan Hogan is Vice President of Fintech Account Management, Australasia, Mastercard.

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