Innovation Is Back, Says Accenture—Or Is it?

Nearly two years after the U.S. tumbled into a recession, business is starting to think about ways to grow again. And for many, this means spending more money on innovation, says a new study from Accenture. In a survey of 630 execs in the U.S. and the U.K., 48% said their companies had upped their innovation budgets from six months ago. A third said innovation outlays were flat.

There’s a gray lining in these numbers: One in every five companies is still cutting spending on the development of new products or services.

And there are other findings that suggest that companies really haven’t kicked their recession habits. While new products or services have the biggest potential to generate sales and profit, 74% of the respondents told Accenture that their companies were pursuing incremental advances, like line extensions. (How many varieties of Coca-Cola will we really drink?) Along the same lines, 66% said their companies were more interested in short-term gains than long-term ones. (Same question.)

In the U.S., at least, companies may not be getting better at innovation, either. Accenture said 73% of American respondents said their employers didn’t learn from mistakes. (In the U.K., only 30% were such slow learners.) Respondents blamed failed innovation mostly on inability to meet customer needs, being late to market, and incorrect pricing.

What’s going on at your companies? Are you seeing any lift in innovation allocations?

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