Irish businesses urged to create innovative digital culture

New research by Microsoft claims cultural change is considered a top challenges for companies in driving transformation

Irish businesses need to create an innovative digital culture within their companies or risk being left behind, new research from Microsoft has warned.

Not only will companies benefit from increased growth but it is also a key component in retaining talent in a competitive marketplace and ensuring productivity, the study found.

It said the majority of Irish organisations – 93 per cent – were facing rapid changes to their business, strategy or regulatory environment. And cultural change was considered one of the top challenges for companies in driving transformation.

The research found 76 per cent of organisations with what was classed a “strong innovative digital culture” – one that welcomes new approaches to problems, where new ideas are supported and employees feel empowered to raise issues or make mistakes – are twice as likely to see double-digit growth in the next five years, but only a third of business leaders said getting the culture right was the top priority for their company.


"Irish business leaders now know they must adapt to constant change with the best mix of culture and technology to thrive," said Aisling Curtis, commercial director at Microsoft Ireland.

“Irish business leaders and managers must create a culture that empowers employees to innovate and collaborate both internally and externally with partners. More importantly, they need to give them the freedom to focus, make mistakes and speak up if there is an issue.

“This will not only drive growth but help retain the best talent and attract future employees that can drive an organisation forward in an age of transformation.”

Part of the urgency is down to retaining talent. More than three-quarters of those surveyed said having an innovative culture was a key factor in retaining their workers, while 79 per cent of employees said they would reapply for their job in an innovative culture. In comparison, only 62 per cent of those working in less innovative cultures would stay with the company.

Share ideas

Building a culture of that nature allows employees to share ideas, with 66 per cent of employees saying they would feel empowered to do so, while 60 per cent said it would make collaboration easier. Some 71 per cent of employees said they were more likely to speak up about issues in the workplace.

“What we see as hugely important is collaborating well together,” said Ms Curtis, “You often get silos and different teams don’t work together. Breaking it down is key.”

Innovative cultures can also offset the impact of digital distractions. Some 60 per cent of Irish employees say they are losing a significant portion of their time – 61 per cent – each week to unnecessary interruptions, inefficient meetings, having to search for information and seeking approvals, but those in a more innovative culture said the amount of time lost fell to 36 per cent.

“People feel as if they are connected around the clock,” said Ms Curtis.

Only 13 per cent owned up to “self-digital distraction”, a figure that could be attributed to a lack of acknowledgment of the issue, Ms Curtis said.

The study questioned 9,000 employees and managers across 15 European countries, including Ireland, as part of Microsoft’s Future of Work Research programme.

Ciara O'Brien

Ciara O'Brien

Ciara O'Brien is an Irish Times business and technology journalist