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  • 29 November 2016 14:57

Rackspace Study Shows Businesses Must Be Curious to Survive and Succeed in an Era of Disruption

Organisations that succeed in times of disruption and volatility are those that are highly curious, according to new research from Rackspace®.

The Rackspace survey on curiosity finds curious organisations identify emerging disruptive technological, social and economic developments better and earlier. They are more likely to collaborate with others to understand them, and employ agile business models to take advantage of these insights. The result is that they perform better on key business measures such as revenue growth, partner satisfaction, customer experience, customer loyalty and employee satisfaction.

The second annual research into curiosity took insights from 600 Australian workers, including 100 senior business leaders. Rackspace developed three indices:

* Individual ‘worker’ curiosity and organisational curiosity

* Sensitivity and responsiveness to early signs of emerging disruptive trends – known as ‘weak signals’

* Business performance

Rackspace uncovered six major findings that shed light on how an organisation’s curiosity influences its ability to succeed in an era of continual disruption.

#1 Curious businesses identify new trends that will affect their business, better and earlier.

* Curious businesses had an average ‘weak signal index’ score of 85, compared to 59 for non-curious businesses.

*Correlating respondents’ place on the curiosity index against their sensitivity to weak signals shows that every 10-point increase in business’ curiosity index score is associated with a corresponding 7.2-point increase in the overall weak signal index score.

* Weak signals can prompt product, service and operational innovation, productivity improvements, and shape staff and skills development policies, which in turn drive success.

#2 Businesses that score highly on the weak signals index report better business outcomes.

* Weak signal-sensitive businesses had an average ‘business performance’ score of 89, compared to 67 among weak signal-insensitive businesses.

* Every 10-point increase in business’ overall weak signal index score is associated with a corresponding 6.5-point increase in the business performance index score.

* More than two-thirds (67 per cent) of curious companies believed their performance had improved over the past 12 months, compared to just 37 per cent of non-curious businesses.

#3 Organisations with agile business models place more importance on curiosity, and reap the rewards.

* Agile organisations, as defined by responses to questions around business practices, over-indexed on all measures of organisational curiosity.

* Agile organisations were more likely to seek out new trends and developments before they become established, and were more likely to report better business outcomes.

* The average weak signal index score amongst senior managers with traditional business models was 68, whereas the weak signal score for those with agile business models was 78.

* The average performance index score amongst senior managers with traditional business models was 71, while for those with agile ones it rose to 83.

#4 Most businesses need to work with curious organisations to achieve better outcomes.

* The majority of businesses recognise that they need to ally with curious partners to achieve customer loyalty, customer experience, revenue growth, partner satisfaction and employee satisfaction.

* 60 per cent of those surveyed agree it’s necessary to work with demonstrably curious businesses to achieve desired customer loyalty.

* 55 per cent of respondents agree it’s necessary to work with demonstrably curious businesses to achieve desired revenue growth.

#5 Curious organisations score higher for employee satisfaction and loyalty.

* Employees at curious companies are more likely to report higher levels of job satisfaction.

* 76 per cent of employees surveyed in curious companies said they were highly satisfied, compared to just 38 per cent in non-curious businesses.

* 71 per cent of workers surveyed in curious companies would recommend their employers, compared to less than half (42 per cent) in non-curious companies.

#6 Business leaders recognise the value of being curious.

* A majority of all respondents strongly agreed that curiosity is important for business growth in terms of revenues/sales (64 per cent), and that it has an important role in shaping business models (64 per cent).

“Whether it’s disruption brought on by new technologies, or just the fact that we live in an ever-changing and uncertain world, curiosity is vital to anticipating, understanding and preparing for change.”

“As part of The Fanatical Support Promise®, we live and breathe curiosity. In fact, Rackspace was recently voted the number one best place to work in Australia under 100 employees, and curiosity was seen as a major distinguishing factor in helping us to achieve this. We believe it’s our competitive advantage, and it is etched into our DNA,” said Angus Dorney, Rackspace ANZ Senior Director and General Manager.

“We also understand the importance of aligning our business with like-minded partners. By focusing on curiosity, weak signals and the effect on business outcomes, our research shows how curiosity can give businesses this critical competitive edge.”

Study methodology

Rackspace commissioned The Factuary and AMR to conduct the 2016 Curiosity research. The research aimed at discovering drivers of personal, professional and organisational curiosity, their relationship with technology and their organisations’ sensitivity to ‘weak signals’ that enable them to thrive in a time of intense and rapid digital disruption.

Based on responses, Rackspace created three indices:

* The curiosity index, formulated from respondents’ ratings of organisational curiosity. Curiosity was defined using 11 attributes of a ‘curious personality’, as defined by the corporate anthropologist Michael Henderson.

* The weak signals index, formulated from respondents’ ratings of their ability to identify, and behaviour in, understanding weak signals that affect their business. Weak signals were grouped into three categories: 1 - Social/cultural

2 - Technological

3 - Economic

* The business performance index, formulated from respondents’ ratings of their business’ performance against five core measures: 1 - Revenue growth

2 - Customer experience

3 - Customer loyalty

4 - Employee satisfaction

5 - Partner satisfaction

The study ran in August and September 2016 among 100 senior managers and 508 white collar workers across Australia. Respondents, who answered a 15-minute online questionnaire, were sourced through The ORU research panel.

Curiosity in 2015

Rackspace conducted its first study of personal and organisations curiosity in 2015. To read about the study and findings, visit

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