Forbes Insights, in association with Wipro, conducted an exclusive survey of more than 300 CEOs and other C-level executives at global enterprises ($500M-plus in annual revenue). The key findings of this survey include:

  • Strategic innovation is more important than ever to driving growth. This commitment to innovation will impact how companies approach environmentally friendly, or green, business practices, as well as how they manage their expansion into global emerging markets. For example, in some cases, companies are using so-called reverse-innovation, taking innovative products and services from their emerging market efforts (such as in China) and commercializing them elsewhere in the world.
  • C-level executives see innovation as a way to differentiate their businesses, particularly following the 2008-09 recession. Fully two thirds of the executives said they believe that innovation is more critical than ever because of the economic downturn of 2008-09.
  • Speed-to-market is necessary for successful innovation. More than 80% of survey respondents agreed that getting a product or service swiftly out to market is a critical business innovation tactic.
  • Cost remains the biggest hurdle to fostering innovation. It topped the list of innovation barriers cited by C-level executives, followed by issues related to the regulatory environment, and finding and retaining top talent.
  • Paying attention to best practices is the most effective way to foster innovation. Other innovation tactics promote by executives included technology, data-based decision making, and customer collaboration.
  • Executives see a very clear business case for using “green” business practices. The most important factors they cited include reducing costs, improving operational efficiency, and meeting customer demand for more environmentally friendly products.
  • Embracing green business practices as part of a corporate innovation strategy is essential to their success. Overall, nearly three quarters of C-level executives indicated their companies had incorporated environmental elements into their innovation strategies.
  • Green IT is a priority for more than three quarters of companies. Their strategies in this area include reducing data center footprints, greater use of server virtualization, and greater use of cloud computing.
  • Executives see investment and expansion into emerging markets as crucial to their strategies today and in the near future. More than half believe China holds the greatest opportunity, followed by India, Southeast Asia, and Eastern Europe.
  • Expansion into emerging markets is being driven by lower costs and a higher rate of growth, according to executives surveyed. Potential barriers to strategic success in these areas include poor distribution channels, unstable political environments, and a shortage of skilled talent.
In addition, 40% of survey respondents consider selective outsourcing as an effective tool in driving business innovation and 30% of CXOs admit using outsourcing as part of their company “green IT” strategy.

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