Innovation Runs Deep as Saudi Pursues Vision 2030
With the launch of Saudi Vision 2030 earlier this year, it’s good news that a just published GE study finds the Kingdom’s business community is already embracing the powerful forces of innovation. Leveraging innovation will be crucial to realizing this bold and transformative Vision.
According to a Saudi-focused analysis of the GE Global Innovation Barometer, nearly 70% of business executives said their companies have a clear innovation strategy in place. As well, 70% said that innovation has already netted positive results in areas such as revenue growth and profits.
What’s more, these executives say it has become less difficult to come up with innovative ideas. While 65% told the survey in 2014 that this was a problem, today only 49% said their company has trouble generating innovative ideas. Their biggest challenges fostering innovation are the lack of sufficient investment in innovation and difficulty securing the right talent.
Highlighting how in-touch Saudi Arabia is with the digital industrial technologies that will impact the future of manufacturing, 78% of C-suite executives and 88% of the informed public said that in the next 10 years, advanced manufacturing such as 3D printing, will radically transform the sector.
In its fifth year, the GE Global Innovation Barometer interviewed nearly 200 senior Saudi business executives and informed members of the public as part of an international survey that spoke with 2,748 senior business executives and 1,346 informed publics across 23 countries.
“These findings underline the deep interest among Saudi business leaders to invest in talent and innovative technologies to drive a new era of growth,” said Hisham Al-Bahkali, GE’s President & CEO for Saudi Arabia and Bahrain. “Innovation is at the heart of the new development narrative in the Kingdom, and GE is committed to nurturing it through our people and our strategic investments, partnerships and localization initiatives.”
Interestingly, although Saudi business executives are embracing innovation, only 68% of them – compared to 81% globally – say a start-up ethos is increasingly becoming the norm for creating an innovation culture within companies of all sizes.
This perhaps reinforces their current preference, which is higher than the global average, for innovating incrementally, e.g., improving existing products and solutions, rather than disruptive breakthrough innovation.
The overall optimism that Saudi executives have about innovation and the digital future is reflected in having one of the lowest concerns globally regarding ‘Digital Darwinism.” Compared to a global average of 81%, only 68% of business executives in the Kingdom are concerned about the risk of becoming obsolete if they fail to adapt and embrace technological changes
Reflecting this, 69% of Saudi executives say their organizations have a clear innovation strategy, marginally higher than the global average of 68%. They show a preference for innovating incrementally.
GE has over eight decades of partnership in the Kingdom and is committed to supporting innovation and Saudi Vision 2030. It has 2,000 employees in the Kingdom, with 50% of staff in highly skilled engineering and technology roles, and a Saudization rate of 70%.
Through its local investments, GE has built a local supplier base of over 300 firms, including 150 Saudi SMEs, and exports parts and services to more than 70 customers in nearly 40 countries across the Middle East, Europe, Africa and North America.