LONDON--(BUSINESS WIRE)--New research by the Economist Intelligence Unit, sponsored by Ricoh Europe, shows that rapid cultural and technological change has left many European businesses overconfident about the true speed at which their organisation is responding to change. Business leaders are three times as likely to compare their company to a speedboat (48 per cent) than a supertanker (17 per cent), while believing the opposite of their competitors. And 92 per cent say that speed is part of their culture. However, three quarters report that they are not reacting to changes fast enough and just 24 per cent can rapidly take advantage of new opportunities or adapt to unexpected changes.
The reality is, as they seek to change faster, European businesses are being clouded by the triple challenge of a rapidly evolving workforce, technology-led disruption and the underlying core business processes that ensure change is sustainable. The study cautions business leaders not to become complacent by citing supporting findings from a recent World Economic Forum report to enhance economic competitiveness. It shows that overall European countries are “trailing behind the United States, Japan and Canada in building a smarter economy,” across a wide range of metrics.
The new report called The Challenge of Speed shows that the speediest European companies excel in three key areas – product and service innovation, adoption of new technology and business process change. Importantly, these requirements go hand in hand, yet very few companies can check all three boxes. Only one in three (29 per cent) can rapidly re-engineer processes to support change. In addition, in faster companies, successful change initiatives originate from line managers or department heads than organisations where change is initiated by the C-Suite. Some organisations, where change is initiated by the C-suite, appear to have already fallen behind their competitors. They are twice as likely (53 per cent) to say they need to move somewhat or significantly faster in the next three years than a company where it originates from department heads (27 per cent).
David Mills, COO, Ricoh Europe, says: “For many business leaders the pressure and perceived complexity to change business operations from traditional to more digital ways of working is obscuring the true rate of success. As the latest research shows, the benefits to being able to rapidly adapt can only be achieved when innovation, optimised businesses process and employee engagement are implemented together. Also, C-level executives are time poor so it is reassuring to see that by diffusing some of the responsibility they can benefit from better agility and more successful change initiatives.”
The masking of the real rate of change may also be attributed to the challenges and bottlenecks inside European companies. The leading barrier to greater agility is the inability to effectively link technology platforms. This will inevitably lead to information silos and will prevent business leaders from seeing the changes in the company as a whole. The second highest barrier is a cultural one. Business leaders state they have difficulty getting employees, business units, or functions to adopt a common approach and only one in ten respondents believe there is clarity about the direction of change with both the leadership team and front-line workers. This indicates a cultural collision between employees - many of which will be the digitally-literate generation Y and their more traditionally-minded managers - as they try to move forward in different directions. This is further compounded by bureaucratic processes. Only 36% of respondents say that their firms eliminate unnecessary approvals or controls in the search for speed.
Mills says, “The rapid pace at which technology is disrupting markets and reshaping relationships with customers has driven organisational agility to the top of the business agenda. Fast companies are not only innovative and enthusiastic adopters of new technology but also able to change core business processes to ensure true organisational change and involve all employees on the journey. Only by reviewing all three areas, will business leaders be able to evaluate the business as a whole and truly state that speed is a part of their culture and that they are operating with the DNA that is required to succeed into the future.”
For more insights into the challenge of speed facing European organisations, visit www.ricoh-europe.com/thoughtleadership.
Ricoh is a global technology company specialising in office imaging equipment, production print solutions, document management systems and IT services. Headquartered in Tokyo, Ricoh Group operates in about 200 countries and regions. In the financial year ending March 2013, Ricoh Group had worldwide sales of 1,924 billion yen (approx. 20 billion USD).
The majority of the company's revenue comes from products, solutions and services that improve the interaction between people and information. Ricoh also produces award-winning digital cameras and specialised industrial products. It is known for the quality of its technology, the exceptional standard of its customer service and sustainability initiatives.
Under its corporate tagline, imagine. change., Ricoh helps companies transform the way they work and harness the collective imagination of their employees.
For further information, please visit www.ricoh-europe.com
About the Research
The report is based on a survey of 461 senior, Europe-based executives from a wide variety of industries. Their companies include a range of sizes. The survey sample is senior, with 49 per cent C-level or above and a further 23 per cent SVPs, VPs, or directors. In addition, the EIU conducted in-depth interviews with corporate leaders and noted experts as well as substantial desk research.