In brief

In brief

  • There has never been a more critical time for businesses to accelerate the adoption of innovation.
  • In this age of disruption, companies that fall on the winning side take a deliberate approach to mastering innovation.
  • The Innovation Maturity Index comprises a framework of twelve governing actions designed to measure the capability of enterprises across industries.

There has never been a more critical time for businesses to accelerate the adoption of innovation. Today, to digital disruption, we must add climate change, conflict, trade volatility, and now, unexpectedly, contagion. The global COVID-19 pandemic, which has defined the past year, has impacted the current and future trajectory of businesses, consumer patterns, and the overall trajectory of economies worldwide.

The impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic underscore how important it is for businesses to be both agile and resilient to respond effectively to rapid and unexpected change. Companies with a strategy for innovating across the business types within their portfolio—i.e., across core, new and emerging business—will have greater success in weathering the storm.

The Innovation Maturity Index measures the maturity of companies’ innovation capabilities and helps identify winning approaches that companies can use to close gaps, beat and potentially go on to lead disruption.

In line with previous iterations, we surveyed C-level executives from 200 large companies in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates between August and October 2020 to understand the extent of innovation maturity currently.

“The pandemic triggered new ways of working and doing business,” said Xavier Anglada, Accenture’s Strategy and Consulting, and Innovation lead in the Middle East. “However, only a handful of regional companies have put in place structural actions which could help them become agile and flexible in their workforce. Companies must intensify their innovation and make greater strides in their business transformation.”

Anglada added: “This year, we found that 14% of companies that have embedded the innovation framework within their firms were able to deepen their innovation investments intensity through adhering to actions that govern their innovation efforts - we refer to them as ‘Innovation Champions. Over the last five years, extensive governance earned Champions 27 percent higher profitability than their peers—in the next five, Champions can expect that rate to more than double to 58 percent and experience even higher employee productivity by continuing to practice meticulous innovation governance.”

The marginal decline in Innovation Architecture scores and the seven-point drop in Innovation Culture scores reflect the dichotomy in the region between new ways of working enabled by technology and traditional ways of doing business, which often requires a physical presence.

The rapid implementation of country-wide lockdowns forced workers to set up home offices and highlighted that companies in the region lag in equipping their employees to work flexibly in this new environment. While many companies worked to recalibrate their businesses quickly, most still need to adopt new ways of working as we continue to navigate the pandemic.

Champions saw 42 percent higher employee productivity and 27 percent higher profitability than companies with less extensive governance structures in place.

Powering Innovation

Disruption and change bring with them an opportunity to innovate like never before.

View Transcript

The 2021 iteration of the Innovation Maturity Index comprises an exclusive framework designed to measure enterprises’ innovation maturity capability across industries within two overarching pillars. The first, ‘Innovate by Design’, measures how companies build the foundational governance structures to facilitate innovation by defining an innovation strategy, instilling a culture of innovation, and creating an innovation architecture. The second, ‘Innovation Practices’, measures seven innovation practices that companies embed in their operations to thrive.

The Innovation Maturity Index measures the maturity of companies’ innovation capabilities across two pillars:

Innovate by Design:
  • Strategy: High-growth firms aim for disruptive advances, not just incremental improvements. They tend to build concentrated innovation functions, not dispersed teams. And they almost always quantify their innovation while balancing it between old and new.
  • Culture: High-growth companies reward creativity, ideation and new thinking.
  • Architecture: High-growth firms create clear processes for moving innovation from ideation and R&D to mass-market commercialization. And they deploy both internal and external innovation capabilities.

Innovation Practices

  • Data driven: The most innovative firms generate, share and deploy data to deliver product and service innovations safely, securely and efficiently.
  • Hyper relevant: They become—and stay—relevant by sensing and addressing customers’ changing needs.
  • Talent rich: They create flexible workforces augmented by artificial intelligence to gain a competitive advantage in fast-changing markets.
  • Asset smart: They manage assets and operations as efficiently as possible to free up capacity for innovation.
  • Inclusive: They adopt an inclusive approach to innovation and governance that incorporates a broad range of stakeholders.
  • Network powered: They harness the power of ecosystem partners to bring the best innovations to customers.
  • Technology propelled: They master leading-edge technologies that enable innovation.


Innovation Champions increase in employee productivity and 27% higher profitability than companies with less extensive innovation governance structures in place.


point jump in Innovation Strategy scores from 57 to 71 points as businesses were compelled to seriously review their current and future strategies because of the pandemic.


of companies can be described as agile when it comes to their workforce’s flexibility to work from anywhere.

Xavier Anglada

Managing Director - Strategy & Consulting, Accenture Middle East

Yusof Seedat

Thought Leadership Director, Accenture Research

Davide Capitanio

Innovation Strategy and Ventures & OI Lead


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