There is clearly a new mood of cautious optimism arising in Europe and it's an encouraging business environment to be in; where we are beginning to see more businesses shift their focus from surviving to thriving.
Our clients are telling us that they are in the most positive financial position than they have been at any time over the past two years. As a result, this is allowing them to take the time to review their current business stock and examine potential areas for development and further growth.
In addition to this, in the last week alone we have seen a range of positive economic indicators such as decreased inflation reports, lower unemployment figures, stable interest rates and increased business confidence be generally reported - all of which will assist in contributing to stronger business plans.
These positive market conditions are leading many executives to consider what they can do with more and seriously consider the ways in which to future proof their organisation - so they are not blindsided by future market blips.
For many the answer to this is innovation. Our clients are telling us time and time again that new ideas and innovation are important to their business success, and that innovation is actively encouraged from all areas of the business - from the R&D department all the way through to the IT and marketing teams.
Innovation can be found in various forums - from a particularly clever approach in customer engagement to the creation of a new framework to increase efficiency. Indeed, we are also finding that some of the most successful businesses are those that are looking to expand into new markets, as well as invest in new technologies to make their companies more streamlined and efficient. Leading European businesses clearly believe that it is now time to look positively to the future, focussing on innovation as a key ingredient for growth while also maintaining a tight grip on the purse strings.
However, whilst we are seeing that many businesses are enjoying better financial performance, there continues to be a major challenge in securing the funds for innovation investment and demonstrating its return on investment to key internal stakeholders.
Certainly, companies are looking to make savings to the way in which they run their business and use some of these savings to invest in projects that drive growth. This type of model requires a governance framework and a robust model for predicting a return on the investment in the new business and technology innovations that they deploy. This delicate balance is allowing businesses to both have their cake and eat it: to grow and to control cost. This explains why, for the main, they are looking for innovation projects that can be deployed quickly and without major capital investments.
However for those who are more cautious about investing in innovation because of a concern about demonstrating the return to the business, we must all be a little braver and take a step forward. After all, no one wants to look back with hindsight and have any regrets.