Accounting and Innovation
Innovation is the life-blood of any business. New products, services and ways of doing business all lead to sustainable longer-term profits. Sometimes innovation comes at a substantial cost, for example in research and development costs. In these recessionary times, budgets for things like product research and development are often slashed. Of course accountants are blamed for this. But can accountants play a role in injecting innovation into businesses in these tough times. According to Richard Young, writing in Financial Management (September, 2009), accountants can inject a dose of realism in to innovative ideas and projects. They can be a ‘wet blanket’, which although has a negative tone, may actually be exactly what is needed in lean times. With a smaller pot of money to be spent on product innovation, accountants can help determine the longer-term profitability of new products or services, preventing great ideas becoming poor sellers. Accountants also bring structure, based on their expertise of the many business processes involved in getting innovative ideas afloat. For example, accountants can ensure that the costs of any new product are minimised – production costs, marketing and distribution costs etc. They can thus help take the innovation to something which is based on costs and profits, something which investors and managers readily understand. Innovative and creative people are often uncomfortable with such language.