More rapid and effective innovation is critical to future growth according to 95% of business leaders.

Despite a complex mix of concerns such as economic uncertainty and inflation, access to talent, and the ongoing pandemic, business leaders’ confidence is up by nine percentage points from last year. These are some of the key findings from HLB’s Survey of Business Leaders 2022 – Powering Your Innovation Engine.

This year’s global Survey of Business Leaders, explores how C-suite executives are rising to the challenge of speeding up innovation amidst ongoing fluctuations in market conditions, shifts in consumer sentiments, and disruptions to the supply chain. HLB surveyed 586 business leaders from 46 countries during 2021 to understand how they plan to propel themselves forward in a future where innovation must be executed at warp speed and across multiple vectors — talent, technology, operational processes, and sustainability.

Download the report


Commenting on the findings, Marco Donzelli, HLB’s Global CEO, said: ‘’Economic factors and the emergence of new COVID variants, as well as other macro trends around talent and cybersecurity will pose challenges to even the most progressive innovation strategies. Nevertheless, business leaders are grasping the opportunities that market changes present to innovate and understand how important innovation is to their future growth.’’

Some of the key findings:

Leaders want to innovate at speed, driven by technology 

  • 65% of leaders believe they are more innovative than their peers.
  • While 69% of leaders agree that market disruption motivated them to innovate, just 55% have budgets set aside for innovative activity in 2022.
  • Overall, almost 60% of leaders feel more confident in their ability to innovate as compared with pre-pandemic.

Finding funds to fuel innovation 

  • Among those who do have a dedicated budget, the majority (77%) plan to fund innovation through cash flow. Also, 28% consider debt refinancing and 25% plan to raise equity funding.
  • Only a minority of our survey respondents are exploring creative funding solutions such as government loans (12%), NGO grants (17%), or crowdfunding (11%) to fund their innovation.

Finding innovators and retaining them 

  • Over a third of business leaders name “capabilities of their people” among the biggest barriers to corporate innovation.
  • 57% of our survey respondents cited access to talent as a significant risk to future growth.
  • 53% of business leaders agree that their workforce have the skills they need to support successful innovation, perhaps hinting at some capability gaps in today’s workforce.

Organisational barriers to successful innovation 

  • Time is a scarce commodity. But considering that 62% of business leaders agree that they can now innovate with greater speed than in the past, it is curious to see that innovation activities get stalled by timing above all else.

Innovation and technology: connected at the hip 

  • Over the past 18 months, technology has proven to be a transformative force, pushing the boundaries of what organisations had previously thought possible. It follows that 53% of leaders name “technology” and 52% name “new product and services launches” as top focus areas for innovation.
  • When it comes to digital, 49% of leaders ranked cloud computing as the most important one for achieving future successes. The prioritisation is even higher among respondents who are very confident in their ability to grow revenue in the next 12 months.
  • Business leaders ranked both AI (43%) and machine learning (32%) as of high strategic importance. That’s a 12% increase compared to last year. The interest in robotic process automation (RPA), the Internet of Things (IoT), and human augmentation also surged significantly.

About HLB
HLB International is a global network of independent advisory and accounting firms. Formed in 1969, we service clients through our member firms in 159 countries, with 32,839 partners and staff in 968 offices worldwide.

Learn more about us and tell us what matters to you by visiting

HLB refers to the HLB International network and/or one or more of its member firms, each of which is a separate legal entity. Please see for further details.