While innovation is exciting, there are still hurdles that organisations need to remove.
With COVID came the increased demand for digital products and services, which means there is a demand for people with digital skills, Mark explains.
"The rate of online shopping has skyrocketed over the last two years. As a result, there's been an increased demand for digitally savvy people, and historically, Australia has heavily recruited digitally equipped people from overseas.
But with borders closed, we have an increase in demand and a decrease in supply. It's a challenge at the moment, and I think other countries are having the same problems in finding talent," Mark says.
Robert explains that in the US, Nordstrom closed 16 full-line stores in the top malls around the country and executives have to innovate to make sure customers still have access to a store.
"Nordstrom is an interesting place that's constantly changing, it attracts people who respond to those sorts of challenges. It's taking a chance on finding people who are creative, who may not fit the department store image, but have great ideas," Robert notes.
Robert says if you want to be innovative, you can't be careful. At the same time, those two things are mutually exclusive.
"Leadership that's willing to take that chance, even if things don’t work out, is key. Nothing ventured is nothing gained and all those other cliches. So you have to have courage,” Robert adds.
Closer to home in Australia, Rob says previously there was a duopoly of brands and the smaller companies had to stay close to the competition. Now, the switch has flipped. Young digital companies are becoming the leaders in their field.
Rob says there was a lack of willingness from organisations to take the risk to innovate.
"Now we have amazing startups coming out of Australia. The Silicon Valley VC community has Aussie businesses like Atlassian and Canva on their radar.
"There are unicorns coming out of the woodwork almost every month. Companies we haven't hadn't even heard of are creating enormous amounts of wealth and generating incredible innovation. It's changing a lot right now. It is going to be an exciting decade in Australia and the Asia Pacific," Rob states.
Unblock and accelerate transformation
There are several ways organisations can accelerate their transformation in 2022. Rob suggests companies get their employees out of the office to talk to customers and understand their unmet needs.
"Be willing to test, learn, experiment and trial things, even if the only outcome is validated learning," Rob says.
He also notes that organisations need to make sure every employee is involved in the innovation agenda and the transformation journey.
"It's about bringing together the folks that have been in the company for a long time. They know the culture, they know the way things have always been done and what's contributed to the success to date. But it's bringing those people together with some of the new employees who've come out of maybe more digital-first roles. You will then see the magic happen.
"I've got a saying that ‘the magic is in the gaps’, when you see a UX designer working with an experienced buyer to develop a new feature on a website, it is exciting," Rob says.
Mark agrees, saying it's about supporting employees on their innovation journey.
"It is about getting the right people in and supporting them. You can let them do cool stuff, and just give them business guidance. It's about finding the right people who have and understand the need for a flexible, agile mindset," Mark explains.