Business Research in Practice Management of the Organisation Through Innovation and technology in the Manufacturing sector of UK

Abstract

Introduction: This paper discusses the significance of these factors within the manufacturing sector in the UK, with particular emphasis on Unilever. The research problem as well as the aim identified for this research focuses on the application and the significance of technology and innovation in Unilever. Furthermore, the paper seeks to assess the significant use of innovation and technology for organisational management in the manufacturing sectors of the UK and determine the relationship between them.

Literature review: The openness towards technology adoption has enhanced service innovation and further stated that support from individuals in higher managerial positions act as an able facilitator between adoption of technology and service innovation. An evaluation of the various literature, along with a conceptual framework has also been developed.

Methodology: A positivism philosophy, with a deductive approach, along with a descriptive design for the evaluation of the quantitative data has been implemented. In addition to that, purposive sampling has been used for the collection of the quantitative data from primary sources (30 employees of Unilever) over telephonic and Skype surveys.

Results and findings: The responses received from the participants of the survey were recorded electronically and the percentage or the frequency of each response in correspondence with each option have been mentioned. A survey questionnaire has been prepared and it consists of 10 questions and this questionnaire was mailed to a total of 35 employees of Unilever. Amongst them, completed surveys have been received back from 30 employees. In this analysis, the various questions regarding how innovation and technology tend to help business management were asked.

Discussion and evaluation: It is observed that technology and innovation are considered as the heart of the business in Unilever and these are planned according to the changing trends in the markets and the customer demands. However, there can be some challenges that the company may face while implementing innovation.

Conclusion and recommendation: An adequate risk management strategy, along with proper training and development programs for the employees has been recommended, following the findings and analysis of the data collected.

Chapter 1: Introduction

1.1 Background/ context of the research

Organisational management is required for making effective decisions to solve the issues of the business organisation. It deals in maintaining equilibrium within the processes of planning, leadership management, resource management and others so that the organisation can achieve the desired aims and objectives. This ensures the development of a successful organisation (Nikezić et al. 2016). The main objective of every organisation is to earn profitability. They plan various tactics and methods that are implied for ensuring better performance of the organisation. The performance and profitability of an organisation can be improved with the help of innovation and continuous development of technologies for the purpose of managing the organisation. Innovation management helps in sustaining the position of the organisation in the competitive market and make optimum utilisation of resources and capabilities. The inter-relation between innovation management and performance of the organisation provides stability to the business (Kraśnicka et al. 2018). Various technologies are used to bring effective changes within the organisation and management. The company’s performance is based on the technologies and tools that the workers use for customer handling and management.

In the UK the organisations related to research and technology have a competing environment globally. They offer services like engineering, technology and innovation. These companies expand their markets in non-traditional sectors also. The uniqueness of the UK companies lies in their technology management and innovation management (Readman et al. 2018). Thus, this project focuses on use of different innovations, techniques, strategies, tools for organisational management and how they are co-related to each other for a company named Unilever. Unilever deals with the customer products related to hygiene, nutrition and personal care, therefore, to maintain the huge stock of products and satisfy the customers all over the world they need to have a strong organisational management which is being studied in this project.

1.2 Research problem/ about the project

Organisational Management is the concept associated with organizing and optimizing the business management strategies. Unilever being a FMCG company they face several issues related to survival in the competitive market, pricing strategies, threat related to direct-to-customer services, sustainability legacy and others (Fleming, 2020). To overcome the issues the company Unilever has planned various strategies so that they maintain their customers and market in today’s world. This study is done to understand their key management strategies that they plan for their business and how they have related their strategies with the continuous innovation and improvement of technology to survive in this market of competition.

1.3 Aim and objectives of the research

Aim: The project aims to understand the significant use of Organisation Management through innovation and technology in the manufacturing sectors of the UK and determine the relationship between them. To serve the purpose the business organisation of Unilever is selected.

Objectives:

  • To understand the significance of technology and innovation and their use in the FMCG manufacturing industry named Unilever of UK
  • To determine the relationship between technology and innovation on the basis of management of Unilever

1.4 Research questions

The questions that are been planned for the completion of this project are as follows:

  • What is the role of management in adopting innovation within the organisation?
  • Is technology and innovation interconnected or separate? If connected, then how are they related?
  • How is innovation significant in an organisation’s management and performance improvement?

1.5 Consultation process undertaken with Unilever

A total 30 employees of Unilever have been chosen for conducting the survey. A brief survey questionnaire has been prepared to entail all the research objectives. Various ethical aspects have been taken into consideration while conducting the survey. Their consent was asked and then the survey questionnaire was mailed to the concerned employees and their responses were recorded. The questions covered all the aspects of the requirement of innovation in management and technology for regulating organisational performance.

1.6 Significance of the research

In the present economic environment, the entrepreneurs and the managers need to undertake necessary business planning, various projects, and consultancy work apart from their core tasks (Burgelman, Christensen and Wheelwright, 2015). The predominant objective of conducting this research is to study and investigate various qualitative and quantitative research methods and various critical problem-solving skills in the business context. Business is an essential aspect that influences the economic condition of a country. It can be considered that the business management research methodologies help in gaining informative data on the current business scenario of the world, the research study outlines the importance of technology and innovation in the business.

1.7 Rationale and purpose of the research

It is generally evident that many businesses that thrive in the manufacturing industries tend to implement various innovations and advanced tools and technology to make the business more attractive and to enhance the overall performance. However, these can be linked back to the fundamental importance of innovation and technology in the modern manufacturing business industry (Bagheri et al. 2019). People often tend to get bored by the same and monotonous design, functionalities, and benefits of products, and hence in order to retain their interest in certain products, it is of utmost importance that the manufacturing companies must incorporate innovation in their business (Haseeb et al. 2019).

The purpose of this research is to provide a brief idea about how various technologies and tools are used in the business to enhance its performance and how innovation helps the organisation gain a competitive advantage in the industry. Technology and innovation have a strong relationship. In other words, the investments made in the adoption of various technologies can allow innovation by enhancing business performance and by helping the business to offer new products (Li, 2015).

1.8 Structure/ outline of the study

Figure 1: Research structure
(Developed by author)

Chapter 2: Literature review

2.1 Overview

The manufacturing sector in the United Kingdom has managed to contribute to the economic growth of the country. In this regard, it is noteworthy to mention the role played by innovation that has not only aided the process but in a way has revolutionised it. It must be acknowledged that the future opportunities and trends are greatly manifested in the current innovation perspectives (Rajapathirana and Hui, 2018). This segment aims to discuss how technological as well as managerial innovations have managed to leave an impact on the manufacturing sector and have holistically contributed to the sustainability of several organisations, Unilever in this case.

2.2 Importance of innovation and technology in the manufacturing industry in the UK

The core objective of any organisation is to ensure profitability and have a competitive advantage over its competitors. It has been observed that organizations that adhere to traditional ways of operating have their businesses hampered. In contrast, those that resort to development of newer products and perhaps evolved technologies coupled with innovation are likely to thrive further (Schoemaker et al. 2018). The manufacturing industry in the UK is however no exception. A survey conducted by Al Sayed and Dugdale (2018) studied the extent of Activity Based Innovation (ABI) in the UK manufacturing sector and the results showed nearly 32% of the respondents to be serious ABI users with nearly 72% of those who took the survey to have either an experience or an active interest in ABI.

Figure 2: Position of the UK in terms of manufacturing industry
(Source: The Manufacturer, 2020)

Unilever is a leading FMCG company and has a diverse product line up ranging from foods, beverage, cleaning agents to personal care products. A study undertaken by Trott and Simms (2017) reveals that the UK packaged food industry follows the “learning by doing” method of innovation and relies heavily on firm interactions and experiences shared by the customers. What also deserves further discussion in this respect is the increased complexities of the retail industry. The increased complexities in the retail industry can be attributed to the technological advancements and growing diversification of customer needs, therefore it is viable for the retailers to adopt more innovation oriented strategies in an attempt to provide innovative customer solutions (Pantano et al. 2017).

2.3 Technological and management innovation in managing organisational performance

One of the chief factors for measuring organisational performance has been innovation (Sethibe and Steyn, 2016). Innovations can be both in terms of the technology undertaken by the company in the manufacturing and packaging of its products as well as managerial that aims to help the organisation run better. Technological innovation is considered to be an important marker for determining competitive success. According to Schilling and Shankar (2019), rapid globalisation has helped to further increase the importance of the same. It is therefore imperative for the companies to adhere to a mind-set that facilitates innovation for it not only greatly impacts the performance of an organisation but also helps to augment the brand efficiency.

Unilever is widely known for its packaged food items and in this context, innovative and sustainable food packaging technologies play a substantial role not only in maintaining the quality and extending the shelf life of the products but also keeping the food items fresh for a longer period of time (Majid et al. 2018). It should further be stated that besides technological innovation, management innovation (MI) too, plays a significant role in boosting an enterprise’s competitive advantage and performance and therefore is slowly gaining ground in determining the organizational efficacy (Kraśnicka, Głód and Wronka-Pośpiech, 2018). Managerial innovation helps to strategize and alter the organisation’s techniques of  managing the workforce, build up an efficient administrative system, motivate and reward the employees for their contribution in the organisation’s success and  also enable the organisation’s ability to adapt to the changing environmental and consumerist needs.  Environmental degradation is reported to be one major negative implication of technological advancement in recent times. It has therefore been observed that big firms or multinationals face pressures from their stakeholders to incorporate green management into their business practices (Li et al. 2018)

2.4 Relationship between innovation and technology

Innovation begins with an idea or a perspective to initiate a change or to meet the growing demands of a changed environment. Innovation is regarded as a chief determinant that characterises success in this highly global and competitive economy. The future opportunities and trends are greatly manifested in the current innovation perspectives (Rajapathirana and Hui, 2018). However having a perspective or an idea is merely not enough. It requires efficient implementation to translate that into a real entity. Technology is that perfect link in this regard that serves as the mediator. Technological innovation reaps benefits for the organisation not only by increasing its productivity and offering better and holistic services to its clientele but also by building a robust loyal brand structure that ensures brand sustenance and longevity.

Figure 3: Value drivers for innovation and technology in the manufacturing industry
(Source: CIS, 2020)

The change in the general lifestyle of the people validates the need of several companies that produce consumer goods to adhere to newer technological and innovative methods. There has been a growing consumer interest in the consumption of fresh products with a greater shelf life and standard quality (Wyrwa and Barska, 2017). Therefore the applications of safer and modern packaging technologies deserve a special mention in this regard. From the perspective of the packaged food industry as in the case of Unilever which is a leading FMCG company, innovation remains a key factor in defining economic viability. It must be noted and highlighted that food innovation entails a wide arena of innovational practices and is massively dependent on the perception of the consumers and their acceptance so as to mitigate even the remotest possibilities of failure (Guiné et al. 2016). Even for the other consumer products that Unilever manufactures, a proper and clearer strategy will enable the organisation to have an idea of the changing consumer needs and thereby pave way for better customer solutions.

2.5 Role of management in the adoption of innovation in an organisational context

The growth of an organisation can be greatly attributed to the dynamism and the collective work ethics of the employees in that organisation. Implementation of core innovative strategies requires the support of the top management group without whose belief and conviction it is impossible for an organisation to formulate and undertake the innovative strategies (Hsu et al. 2019). In a competitive market it is innovation that acts as an able differentiator and is the most important factor based on which consumer industry thrives.

A study conducted by Hsu et al. (2019) has reported that the openness towards technology adoption has enhanced service innovation and further stated that support from individuals in higher managerial positions act as an able facilitator between adoption of technology and service innovation. In this context it is important to highlight the importance of trust in innovation. It has been observed that in the due course of evolution of an innovative strategy, the trust associated with an innovation undergoes a significant change as different adopters place different priorities on the three main elements of trust which according to Viardot (2017) are credibility, integrity and benevolence of the innovation creator. Therefore it is extremely important to create an ecosystem that encourages innovation for it helps the company to create its own niche.

Unilever is known for having a management that prioritises value generation. It has been working relentlessly to arrive at solutions encompassing a broad spectrum of problems like fighting viruses, better packaging, ensuring safe drinking water, and storage of renewable energy (Murphy and Murphy, 2018).  It is therefore only possible for it to cater to the growing demands of the customers if and only if it propagates the idea of adhering to innovation for which managerial support and backing is extremely vital.

2.6 Impact of technological and management innovation on the sustainability of the organisation

The long term goal of every business organisation is to withstand the competitive market and ensure sustainability. Technological and managerial innovation can reap benefits and bring about economic and social viability but paying importance to sustainable development is a necessary prerequisite that determines longevity of the company. In order to ensure sustainability it is extremely important for the companies to make note of the several physical and environmental externalities. Different companies have different ways of ensuring their sustenance and it forms a major focal point of their business strategies. Unilever, a British-Dutch origin consumer goods company views the idea of sustainability as an opportunity for securing competitive advantage and growth (Lawrence et al. 2019). Unilever had introduced the Unilever Sustainable Living Plan (USLP) in the year 2010 with a ten year goal of doubling the growth and reducing the negative environmental implications with the intention to generate a social impact (Ionescu and Brassey, 2019).

Figure 4: Sustainable living by Unilever
(Source: the Guardian, 2020)

Unilever has been reported to focus on four core areas for sustainability (Jansen, 2018). These areas include water conservation, waste reduction, adopting sustainable methods of sourcing and greenhouse emissions. The official website of the organisation provides a comprehensive overview of all the sustainability efforts undertaken by the organisation. Unilever as a brand believes in value generation and therefore it strategically provides its huge customer base products that are responsibly sourced (Murphy and Murphy, 2018). The commitments undertaken by Unilever to ensure sustainability however entails great risks as well as no company prior to Unilever had made such commitments.

2.7 Gaps in literature

While carrying out the literature review it was witnessed that there was a considerable lack of evidence that correlated technology with innovation with respect to the consumer industry. This caused a considerable hindrance in putting down the material coherently. Even with respect to the managerial and technological innovations undertaken by Unilever, there was an evident lacuna in the research findings.

2.8 Summary

From this section it can therefore be concluded that innovation and technology are mutually inclusive. Technology is the bridge between an innovation perspective and reality. An innovation strategy will therefore have absolute no value until and unless it has been backed by strong and sustainable technology. It must also be stated in this context that keenness to adapt to a certain technology or the openness to change with the constant change in the consumer market is an able determinant that forms the focal point of several business organisations that subsequently ensures its longevity and sustenance. This is however only possible if the firm or the organisation has a workforce that is backed by supportive and encouraging leadership. On a concluding note it must be stated that Unilever has shown great potential in trying to be a company that values innovation and has been found to view the idea of sustainability as an opportunity for securing competitive advantage and growth (Lawrence et al. 2019).

2.9 Conceptual framework

Figure 5: Conceptual framework
(Source: Developed by author)

Chapter 3: Methodology

3.1 Overview of the research process

Research methodology forms the major area of research articles. This makes the readers understand the proper use of tools, techniques and methods. This research is based on the “quantitative methodology” as only quantitative data are being collected for this purpose. The Research onion of Saunders et al. (2015) clearly illustrates the steps involved in methodology for selection of appropriate theories.

Figure 6: Research onion
(Source Saunders et al. 2015)

The Research onion by Saunders et al. (2015) is a representation of stages and theories that are being followed for the successful completion of the project.

3.2 Scope and target audience

This research is based on the use of innovation, technology for organisational management in the manufacturing sectors. Thus, the project would be beneficial for the individuals who work in the manufacturing sectors and definitely the students of management. This would help them in understanding the concepts of organisational management and the involvement of innovation and technology in this.

3.3 Research hypothesis

The project is being performed using quantitative but due to circumstantial hurdles a subjective analysis is preferred rather than analytical. A hypothesis is used by researchers to analyse the relationship between the variables statistically (Yusup et al. 2019).

Research hypothesis is set using variables, null hypothesis and predicted hypothesis, according to the project.

The variables are technology, innovation and organisational management

Therefore,

H0= technological advancement and innovation is insignificant in case of organisational management

H1= technological advancement and innovation have a major impact on organisational management and are strongly correlated.

3.4 Research choice

According to the Research onion of Saunders et al. (2015), the selection of research choice is a key factor of research. The research projects are mainly based on three types of methodology: qualitative, quantitative and mixed methods. In this research, a quantitative method is applied as it provides a numerical solution which is not influenced by any bios thoughts. The most important part of quantitative research choice for which this method is preferred, is that a huge amount of data is not required for concluding analysis results making the research methodology of sampling easier. This also provides the benefit of easier handling of data (Basias and Pollalis, 2018).

3.5 Research philosophy

Research philosophy is of mainly four types: pragmatism, positivism, realism and interpretivism. Pragmatism philosophy identifies, analyses, and discusses the problem to provide solutions considering environmental, political and other issues (Majeed, 2019). Positivism philosophy is the cause-effect relationship, realism philosophy is mind’s freedom or independence (Ryan, 2018; Costello, 2017). Interpretivism philosophy interprets the social world based on subjective perspective in terms is a concept of human research approach where the social world is interpreted in terms of subjective perspective (Ryan, 2018). In this project, positivism is applied to determine the importance of technological advancements and innovations for organisational management for the manufacturing industry Unilever.

3.6 Research approach

The study of the project is done based on the predicted hypothesis of significant impact of innovations and technologies in organisational management of manufacturing companies like Unilever. To study this the best suited research approach is a deductive approach because it helps in the hypothetical studies and requires quantitative data for analysing the best possible solution of the hypothesis considering all possible factors (Cramer-Petersen et al. 2019). On the contrary, inductive approaches require data of qualitative analysis and abductive approaches require the data of both qualitative and quantitative analysis.

3.7 Research design/ strategy, setting and application to the current research

The research design is important for designing the research methodology as it determines how the survey will be analysed, whether in experimental approach or descriptive approach. Descriptive approach is preferred for surveys as it specifically predicts the results and provides accuracy in results (Amit, 2018). Descriptive research design is selected for this project as this requires specificity and accuracy to understand the use and impact of advanced technologies and innovations in organisation management of a manufacturer company Unilever.

3.8 Data type, sources and analysis

Data can be either primary or secondary, primary data are collected directly from individuals and secondary data gathered from published sources. In this case, quantitative data is collected from primary sources and analysed using MS Excel

3.8.1 Process, tools/ instruments and techniques for data collection

The data is collected using a set of questionnaires as a tool based on which the experienced employees and managers of Unilever have participated in the survey through telephonic conversations and Skype surveys. The answers are plotted in excel sheets and quantitative analysis is done using graphs and charts.

3.8.2 Quantitative data collection

The answers of the set of questions are recorded as quantitative data and analysed using specific software like MS Excel.

3.8.3 Primary sources

The primary data collection is done from 30 experienced employees and managers of Unilever, who can provide the perfect information related to study.

3.9 Sampling techniques and sample size

The selection of non-probabilistic judgemental or purposive sampling is done among the five non-probabilistic sampling techniques, namely, quota sampling, accidental sampling, judgmental sampling or purposive sampling, expert sampling, snowball sampling, modal instance sampling  (Etikan and Bala, 2017). It is selected because this sampling technique demands the best suited persons and the research is carried out among 30 persons who are managers and top employees in this field.

3.10 Limitations

The completion of a successful project is incomplete without facing the limitations. In this case, the major crisis was data collection procedure during the COVID19 pandemic, many personnel refused to interact in this situation. The project is done based on quantitative analysis, therefore, it required expensive tools and technology that was unable to provide and thus, subjective analysis is done.

3.11 Ethical considerations

Ethical considerations are required to collect data from primary sources. The manager and the employees should be treated with respect and are required to be informed about the whole process and an informed consent needs to be signed. Furthermore, the data privacy is of utmost requirement in the survey as stated in the Data Protection Act 2018 (Carey, 2018). 

3.12 Timeline

The project work is being carried out for six months from April ’20 to September ’20. The Gantt chart of Table 1 illustrates the activities undertaken and the time required for completion of each of the activities.

Table 1: Gantt chart/ timeframe
(Created by author)

3.13 Summary

This research is done to analyse the impact of innovations and technologies in organisational management of Unilever and thus applied research methodology is dependent on quantitative analysis of the data collected from 30 individuals as primary source data and based on purposive sampling technique and analysed using positivism philosophy and deductive approach.

Chapter 4: Results/ Findings

4.1 Overview

The section entails the various data information that is obtained from the survey that was conducted. It provides information on the basis of the various responses received from the managers of Unilever. The findings on the research theme have somewhat aligned with the opinions of various literature and the various data collected from the secondary research sources, such as journals, articles, and books. The various findings on the basis of the evaluation of the information obtained through the quantitative data have been analysed thoroughly along with the evidence on the validation on the basis of the statements of the literature and the similarity of the various information collected from the literature with that of the surveyed group.

4.2 Quantitative data collection and analysis

Quantitative data has been gathered through a survey questionnaire consisting of close-ended questions. The questionnaire was mailed to the employees. A total of 35 employees were mailed and, out of those 35 employees, only 30 have responded to the surveys. Thus the sample space of the survey was 30. The various responses received were analysed in a statistical manner in order to draw a pattern for the way technology and innovation have helped the industry to grow and develop. The survey questionnaire consists of 10 questions and each of them contains a certain number of options. The responses received from the participants of the survey were recorded electronically and the percentage or the frequency of each response in correspondence with each option have been mentioned. The responses are represented in a tabular form and the pie-charts have been used to represent the frequency of each response for a clear idea.

Question 1: To which gender you belong?

Option/ responseNumber of respondentsTotal number of respondentsResponse frequency
a. Male203067%
b. Female93030%
c. Other0300
d. Would not like to answer1303%

Table 2: Response 1

Figure 7: Pie-Chart for response 1
Source: (Created by author)

Question 2: Please specify which age group you belong:

Option/ ResponseNo. of respondentsTotal No. of respondentsFrequency of Response
a. 18-2583040%
b. 26-3523010%
c. 36-4533015%
d. 46-5533015%
e. Above 5543020%

Table 3: Response 2

Figure 8: Pie-Chart for response 2
Source: (Created by author)

Question 3: Up to what extent do you think technology and innovation are important for your company?

Option/ responseNumber of respondentsTotal number of respondentsResponse frequency
a. Extremely important123040%
b. Fairly important83026%
c. Moderately important83027%
d. Not sure2307%

Table 4: Response 3

Figure 9: Pie-Chart for response 3
Source: (Created by author)

Question 4: What are the areas you think there are requirements to bring some changes and innovation in your company?

Option/ responseNumber of respondentsTotal number of respondentsResponse frequency
a. Supply chain management83027%
b. Risk management83027%
c. Stakeholder management73023%
d. Fund Management73023%

Table 5: Response 4

Figure 10: Pie-Chart for response 4
Source: (Created by author)

Question 5: Which fields do you think are impacted by technological innovation?

Option/ responseNumber of respondentsTotal number of respondentsResponse frequency
a. Customer Satisfaction123040%
b. Profit margin83027%
c. Revenue hike83026%
d. All the above2307%

Table 6: Response 5

Figure 11: Pie-Chart for response 5
Source: (Created by author)

Question 6: What challenges do you often face during implementing innovation?

Option/ responseNumber of respondentsTotal number of respondentsResponse frequency
a. Lack of collaboration163054%
b. Lack of motivation73023%
c. Lack of diversity33010%
d. Missed connections with customers43013%

Table 7: Response 6

Figure 12: Pie-Chart for response 6
Source: (Created by author)

Question 7: What changes do you see in the company’s performance after implementing innovation?

Option/ responseNumber of respondentsTotal number of respondentsResponse frequency
a. Increase in business revenue123040%
b. Client retention83027%
c. Lead generation83026%
d. All the above2307%

Table 8: Response 7

Figure 13: Pie-Chart for response 7
Source: (Created by author)

Question 8: Do you think technology also helps in maintaining the sustainability of the organisation?

Option/ responseNumber of respondentsTotal number of respondentsResponse frequency
a. Yes183060%
b. May be73023%
c. No.2307%
d. Can’t answer33010%

Table 9: Response 8

Figure 14: Pie-Chart for response 8
Source: (Created by author)

Question 9: Who do you think has the most important role to play in bringing innovation in the company?

Option/ responseNumber of respondentsTotal number of respondentsResponse frequency
a. Managers83026%
b. Leaders83027%
c. Employees43013%
d. All103033%

Table 10: Response 9

Figure 15: Pie-Chart for response 9
Source: (Created by author)

Question 10: What technological tools do you often use to improve business performance?

Option/ responseNumber of respondentsTotal number of respondentsResponse frequency
a. Cloud computing163054%
b. Use of CRM73023%
c. Accounting software33010
d. Business intelligence software43013%

Table 11: Response 10

Figure 16: Pie-Chart for response 10
Source: (Created by author)

4.3 Summary

A quantitative analysis has been carried out through a survey that has been conducted through the mail. A survey questionnaire has been prepared and it consists of 10 questions and this questionnaire was mailed to a total of 35 employees of Unilever. Amongst them, completed surveys have been received back from 30 employees. In this analysis, the various questions regarding how innovation and technology tend to help business management were asked. The survey has helped in obtaining a crisp knowledge about the various perceptions and opinions of the employees of Unilever regarding technological innovation. However, from the overall information received from the survey, it can be observed that the results and the findings somewhat align with the opinions obtained in the literature review.

Chapter 5: Discussion and evaluation

5.1 Introduction:

The survey questionnaire comprised a number of questions related to innovation and technology. In this quantitative analysis, diversified answers were received from the people working in Unilever. The first two questions that were asked in the survey were introductory. The employees were asked to specify their gender and age and that has helped to gain a wider perspective of different people from a varied range of age groups on innovation technology. The results received in the survey showed that the data somewhat aligns with what had been obtained in the literature review.

5.2 Importance of innovation and technology in Unilever:

Innovation and technology tend to play a great role in the performance management of Unilever. According to the results of the survey it is seen that 40% of the total respondents have answered that they consider this as the most important aspect of the company. Again, 27% and 26% of the employees of Unilever have considered that innovation technology moderately important and fairly important for the company respectively. Thus this can be said that this result aligns with the findings of the literature review as it is found here that technology and innovation and innovation play a great role in not only gaining a competitive advantage in the market but also in improving the overall performance of the company (Bonvillian and Weiss, 2015). Also, according to Feist and Gorman (2016), innovation management also helps in managing various innovative ideas and the planning and processes behind the implementation of those ideas.

5.3 Crucial areas of Business that need innovation in Unilever:

In a global manufacturing company like Unilever, there is a wide range of areas of business that need innovation and changes in order to keep up with the market competition and to retain customer interest (Feist and Gorman, 2016). In a manufacturing company like Unilever, supply chain management is a huge area and this needs innovation and various technical implementations for regulating the operational services. It is a commonly known fact that the field of supply chain management is critically related to risk management. In the survey, it is observed that an equal percentage of the total participants, that is 27% of the total employees have agreed that supply chain management and risk management are the two areas that need innovation. Apart from that, an equal percentage of 23% have responded that stakeholder management and fund management are the two areas that need innovation. However, in the literature, it is observed that innovation and technology are not just helpful in one particular area but can enhance performance in a wide range of areas (Pradeep, Appel and Sthanunathan, 2019). Also, (Tidd, 2018) suggested that proper strategy and planning are the two most important things that are required to implement appropriate innovation in appropriate areas of business, and effective innovation management can not only manage the risks and the supply chain of the company but can also help gain a competitive advantage in the market, predict mitigate risks, stakeholder engagement and so on.

5.4 Impact of innovation in various areas:

As discussed earlier, innovation not just helps in a particular area of business, but it improves the overall business performance of Unilever. The innovations that take place in Unilever are mostly based on customers’ needs and demands. However, from the survey, it is observed that 40% of the employees believe that innovation is most effective in improving the level of customer satisfaction, and 26% and 27% of the total employees of Unilever have responded that they believe that there are significant improvements in the areas of profit margins and revenue hike respectively, as a result of effective implementation innovation. Also, from Unilever global company website (2020), it is found that above 5000 professionals of Unilever from the field of research and development are building the brand via innovation. Unilever invests approximately $1 billion in the field of research and development every year and they also possess a portfolio of above 20,000 patents along with patent applications (Stefaniak, 2015).

5.5 The way innovation and technology improve business performance:

Innovation and technology are considered to be the heart of the business in Unilever and it tends to impact many areas of various operational performances of the organisation (Stefaniak, 2015). Unilever is working towards bringing innovations in terms of a more holistic approach. The cluster and the design category and the cluster of the organisation tend to draw on various local knowledge like consumer preferences, various legal aspects, regulatory framework, and the products of the various competitors in the market, and so on as the team initiates the launch of a new product in the market (Tidd, 2018). The supply managers of Unilever tend to work closely with colleagues in the field of marketing and risk management in order to make sure that the new product can be prepared in an efficient manner. In the survey, it is observed that 40% of the total respondents have answered that they have seen significant growth in the business revenue as a result of effective innovation and technology in the supply chain.

Whereas, 27% of the total participants have answered that they have perceived potential lead generation as a result of innovation in Unilever, and 26% of the employees have answered that they have experienced that the client retention capability of the company has improved significantly as a result of innovation. Also, 7% of the total respondents opined that they consider all the aspects that were listed in the survey are impacted and improved by innovation and technology. This further aligns with the findings of the literature review that innovation helps the company to grow in a sustainable manner (Sethibe and Steyn, 2016). Technology and product development are the central part of the strategy to retain customer interest with the brand. Various effective technologies and innovations are also helpful in bringing a positive impact on society and the environment.

5.6 Role of management and employees in implementing innovation:

The act of implementing effective technology and innovation in the business can be considered to be a very comprehensive and complex undertaking (Sethibe and Steyn, 2016). It also tends to take a varied range of skills and functions for developing new and innovative products and services from the initial planning and idea. Also, positioning the idea and planning in a successful manner in the market also takes a lot and various important roles are played by the managers, leaders and the employees successfully implement innovation in the right place (Leleux and Kaaij, 2018). In the survey, it is observed that approximately 26% of the total respondents have answered that they believe the managers of Unilever have the most important role in the implementation of innovation. On the other hand, 27% have opined that the leaders are the main drivers of innovation in the business, 13% have responded that the employees tend to play a very important role in bringing and implementing innovation in the various fields of the business. However, the greatest percentage of the total respondents, that is 33% have opined that all the listed people tend to play a wide range of important roles in the successful implementation of innovation. Furthermore, it is found in the literature review that the managers tend to play a diversified role in implementing innovation and he can act both as an innovator and an enabler (Schoemaker et al. (2018).

5.7 Use of various technological tools in implementing innovation:

In this current world, everything is digitised and technology is gaining advancements at an immensely rapid rate. In the digital world, the use of technology in various areas of business can help the business gain great competitive advantages and will help in regulating the overall business performance (Pantano et al. 2017). In the survey, it is observed that a huge percentage of the Unilever employees have considered that cloud computing is the most effective and one of the most widely used techniques to enhance business performance as it enables effective collaboration between the different levels of staff (Schoemaker et al. 2018). 54% of the total respondents opined that cloud computing is the most effective technology tool that helps in bringing innovation in the business successfully. Apart from that, 23% of the participants have answered that they consider the use of CRM can be very effective in planning and appropriate innovation ideas and in maintaining rapport with the customers. Unilever has a wide range of customer base and thus an effective use CRM can enable the company to manage its rapport with the customers and various external stakeholders. Also, in the survey, it is found that 10% and 13% of the total respondents have answered that they think an effective accounting and an innovative business intelligence software can be immensely helpful for the company. Furthermore, it has been suggested by Al Sayed and Dugdale (2018) that technology is a solid and cost-effective tool that helps in improving the overall business process and performance and the use of technology lessens the chances of mistakes. Thus, it is always required to use technology as per the needs of the various organisational aspects (Pantano et al. 2017).

5.8 Challenges faced while implementing innovation:

Innovation is one of the most essential aspects of a business and it determines the success and growth of a particular organisation (Majid et al. 2018). Cultivation of innovation in the organisation can be a very critical organisational initiative for Unilever. However, according to Li et al. (2018), there are some internal and external challenges that may be faced by the company and these may hinder the progress of innovation. In the survey, a great percentage of 54% of the total respondents have answered that they consider a lack of collaboration amongst the different staff and managers of the organisation is the most common and potential threat to change management and innovation. Also, 23% of the total respondents think that lack of motivation is the biggest challenge to innovation. On the other hand, 10% of the employees pointed out the lack of diversity as the most potent challenge for innovation, and 13% of the employees answered that missed connections with customers can hinder the process of innovation implementation. Also, as per Kraśnicka, Głód, and Wronka-Pośpiech (2018), innovation is a very aspect of business as it helps in driving business success, and thus it is of utmost importance for the company to assess these challenges and develop an effective plan to minimize these challenges.

5.9 Summary:

In the various findings from both the literature review as well as the survey, it is observed that technology and innovation are considered as the heart of the business in Unilever and these are planned according to the changing trends in the markets and the customer demands. However, there can be some challenges that the company may face while implementing innovation, and thus it is required to develop a proper risk assessment plan for the successful execution of innovation and technology.

Chapter 6: Conclusion and recommendations

6.1 Summary/ Conclusion

From the primary and the secondary conducted in the study, it is clear that technology and innovation tend to play a very important role in regulating the operational performances of Unilever. Innovation management and employing various advanced levels of technology is the process of organizing various strategies and ideas for the betterment of the business. Planning innovation and management include everything, starting from planning and processing behind the initiation of the idea, making them achievable, and turning them into effective action plans and keep working on them until they are successfully executed. It can also be concluded from the various primary and secondary research conducted, that technology and innovation are closely interrelated with each other. Whenever people hear the term “latest technology” or that a recent technicality has been introduced in the market by some expert techies or a brilliant scientist, the thought of innovation often strikes the mind.

Also, it is seen that in many departments and organisations, the nomination of technology and innovation is usually paired, and it is considered that both the concepts are indissoluble in nature.

From the findings of the research it can be concluded that in this digital world, technological advancement is regarded as innovation as a way forth and as proof that the business is proceeding towards a better world. Even in Unilever, the managers, the leaders, and the employees are finding more new ways for the integration of technology in their business scope and in order to facilitate various business activities and to out-perform various business competitors.

6.2 Linking with the objectives/ hypotheses of the research

Objective 1: The primary objective of this research was to understand the significance of technology and innovation and their application in Unilever. This objective was met by referring to the various aspects of technological innovations and the various strategies developed in Unilever to implement those innovations. Moreover, the principle in Unilever to develop and grow their enterprise by implementing innovation in terms of customers’ demands and interests also outlines the significance of innovation in the business.

Objective 2: The final objective of this research was to determine the relationship between technology and innovation in terms of the management system of Unilever. This objective was met by highlighting the wide range of linkages between technological advancements and innovations and by discussing how psychologically people relate technology with innovation. Also, the discussion regarding technology helps in the successful and effective implementation of innovation within the company also fulfils this objective.

6.3 Recommendations

Nowadays, innovation has become one of the major concerns of Unilever and they consider that innovations drive the growth and development of the company. In Unilever, innovation not just enhances customer experience but also retains the brand value of the company. However, as discussed above there can be various challenges and obstacles while implementing innovation in certain business areas, the company must take some precautionary steps while planning innovation.

Recommendation 1: The innovation and technological advancements must be based on the customers’ demands and interests and must be applied to the appropriate areas. Also, it needs to be taken into consideration that skilled workers are required to operate various technical changes and innovation and thus proper training and development programs for the employees is needed for the success of technological innovation.

Recommendation 2:  Various challenges like lack of collaboration, lack of diversification, and so on are most common in the fields of innovation management. Thus, it is highly recommended to Unilever that they must consider these factors and must use tools and techniques to minimize these challenges. A proper risk assessment strategy needs to be developed by the hierarchy of the organization to mitigate the challenges and for ensuring the successful implementation of innovation.

6.4 Future scope and limitations of the study

The paper entirely focuses on the various aspects of technology and innovation in Unilever and the relationship between technology and innovation. With the extensive advent of modernisation and digitisation in society, the influx of technological advancements has utterly amplified and thus every business tries to implement technological innovation within the business in order to gain competitive advantage and operational success. This study can be significantly helpful for future entrepreneurs in terms of planning and executing innovation and technology in the business. Moreover, referring to the various linkages and connections between innovation and technology will let the future managers design a framework in the implementation and execution of innovation in the business. The research will also help future business people to gain an insight into the various processes and strategies involved in managing and developing innovation.

However, the research is only conducted surrounding the manufacturing industries of the United Kingdom and moreover, a particular organization, that is Unilever has been taken into consideration in this research. Thus, it does not cover the aspects of innovation and technology in various other industries of the market. The trends and techniques of innovation are different for different markets and industries and the research does not outline those areas. However, this research can be significantly helpful for entrepreneurs and business managers dwelling in the manufacturing industries.

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Appendix:

Survey Questionnaire:

Question 1: To which gender you belong?

a. Male
b. Female
c. Other
d. Would not like to specify

Question 2: Please specify which age group you belong:

a. 18-25
b. 26-35
c. 36-45
d. 46-55
e. Above 55

Question 3: Up to what extent do you think technology and innovation is important for your company?

a. Extremely important
b. Fairly important
c. Moderately important
d. Not sure

Question 4: What are the areas you think there are requirements to bring some changes and innovation in in your company?

a. Supply chain management
b. Risk management
c. Stakeholder management
d. Fund Management

Question 5: Which fields do you think are impacted by technological innovation?

a. Customer Satisfaction
b. Profit margin
c. Revenue hike
d. All the above

Question 6: Do you think your company is doing good in the technological and innovation aspect?

a. yes
b. may be
c. no
d. not sure

Question 7: What changes do you see in the company’s performance after implementing innovation?

a. Increase in business revenue
b. Client retention
c. Lead generation
d. All the above

Question 8: Do you think technology also helps in maintaining the sustainability of the organization?

a. Yes
b. May be
c. No.
d. Can’t answer

Question 9: Who do you think has the most important role to play in bringing innovation in the company?

a. Managers
b. Leaders
c. Employees
d. All

Question 10: How important is the role of technology in terms of innovation?

a. Cloud Computing
b. Use of CRM
c. Accounting software
d. Business intelligence software

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