Legal and contractual hurdles to digital transformation must be met head on to achieve innovation, says expert

Out-Law News | 29 Apr 2014 | 12:18 pm | 2 min. read

Businesses must tackle regulatory and contractual challenges head on if they want to use technology to innovate, an expert has said.

IT contracts specialist, Clive Seddon of Pinsent Masons, the law firm behind, said that regulatory and contractual issues can hold up business change projects but said that those hurdles must be addressed to cut the time it takes to "turn ideas into reality".

Seddon was commenting after a report by strategic innovation consultancy ?What If! found that 69% of UK business leaders have identified innovating as one of the top three priorities (24-page / 1.24MB PDF) for their company. The survey showed that 61% of businesses are on the verge of changing strategic tack, from one focused on achieving efficiencies to one focused on growth.

?What If! interviewed 400 chief executives, directors and other senior leaders with some of the UK's biggest companies across 10 industries including banking, energy, manufacturing and telecoms and found that 72% of respondents believe that their company "rests too heavily on fading revenue streams". More than a quarter (28%) also said that they "fear their business model will cease to work altogether within just three years".

However, the study found that it takes more than 19 months on average to "get an idea to market". Despite this, 94% of chief executives said they are "content with their current innovation pipeline" in their business.

"It is not surprising to see that innovating is a major priority for many UK businesses as it is at the heart of all the business change and technology projects that we are currently seeing," Seddon said. "Innovating will mean different things to different companies depending on where they are in the supply chain, but the need for it is being driven by the changing demands of consumers and customers. Those demands are themselves changing due to rapid developments in technology which are impacting our business and personal lives in more or less every respect."

"This means that businesses cannot look at innovation in a vacuum and instead must address innovation as part of a wider creation or review of their digital strategy," Seddon said. "Business leaders are using technology to better connect with their customers or the ultimate consumer, as well as with their employees.  Technology allows them to do this due to technology advances around analytics, mobile technology and social media channels that connects brands, products and services directly to consumers, regardless of where your business sits in a supply chain. This connection can of course be global. Consequently CEOs and their boards are very keen to deliver business change projects speedily. They can be frustrated however by the length of time it takes for those projects to be delivered."

"Companies must assess whether existing regulatory requirements and contractual arrangements with existing suppliers and partners act as hurdles to innovation. They must determine how they can use the law to circumvent any perceived or actual hurdles which might exist and reduce the risks inherent in a project failure, in order to harness new technology available whilst at the same time recognising the long term value of core systems. This approach will enable business to deliver the innovation and growth which companies are now looking for as we emerge from recession," he said.