Innovation in the business processes of technology-focused companies is transforming the way that they and their partners across the business ecosystem operate.

On 19 July, the Royal Academy of Engineering invited representatives from industry and academia to debate how innovation is changing the face of business and identify ways in which UK firms can build on the country’s strong track record of engineering innovation.

Leading business academics and senior managers of technology companies discussed the latest theories on business innovation, illustrated by up-to-date examples of how leading firms have adapted their business models to stay competitive.

President Sir John Parker GBE FREng chaired the event, which drew out some common themes and conditions for successful business innovation:

  • understanding where innovation comes from and the underlying reasons for customer behaviour is the key to improving business processes and adapting to change;
  • technology, through sensors and smarter ways of understanding data, provides companies with the tools to understand customers, thereby improving products and services at a quicker pace than ever before;
  • the most successful organisations embed innovation in all parts of the business chain (for example, sometimes the most effective ideas come from people at the customer frontline and this is often forgotten when investing heavily in research and development centres);
  • emerging economies are not just competitors for UK plc; they are also a source of talent, investment and markets for UK companies and collaboration should continue to be encouraged;
  • ultimately, technology-based companies are part of a wider system and it is important to look at all parts of the system, whether a customer or a supplier in order to provide the best products and services.

Speakers at the meeting were leading business academics Professor Tim Baines, Professor of Operations Strategy, Aston Business School; Professor Dr Ivanka Visjnic, Business Models Research Lead, Cambridge Service Alliance and Professor Simon Collinson, Professor of International Business and Innovation and Director of Research for School of International Business and Strategy, Henley Business School.

Speakers from leading technology companies were Jeni Mundy FREng, Director, Products and Innovation, Vodafone Global Enterprise; James Baker, Managing Director, BAE Systems Advanced Technology Centre and Paul Martynenko, Vice President and Technical Executive, IBM Europe.

Links to the presentations from the day are provided below and the videos of the discussions will soon be available on the Academy’s website. A detailed report summarising the discussions at this event will be published in late August.

This event is part of a series on innovation. The first was held in January on Innovation in construction. The next events take place throughout 2012 and early in 2013 on innovation in automotive and innovation in biomedical engineering.

Notes for editors

  1. Founded in 1976, The Royal Academy of Engineering promotes the engineering and technological welfare of the country. Our fellowship – comprising the UK’s most eminent engineers – provides the leadership and expertise for our activities, which focus on the relationships between engineering, technology, and the quality of life. As a national academy, we provide independent and impartial advice to Government; work to secure the next generation of engineers; and provide a voice for Britain’s engineering community.

For more information please contact

Katherine MacGregor at The Royal Academy of Engineering Tel. Direct tel +44 (0) 20 7766 0623; email: Katherine MacGregor