As we come to the end of 2020, many businesses will be hoping to put this year firmly in their rear-view mirror. The impact on various sectors caused by the COVID-19 pandemic has sent many businesses to the wall, while others have simply been fighting to keep their heads above water.
It is therefore understandable that long-term vision and planning has been put on hold to prioritise short-term stability. However, some businesses have been able to look ahead to a time when the global health crisis is a thing of the past.
Take Dyson, the technology and electronics giant. Last month, it announced that it will invest £2.75billion in new technologies and products over the next five years.
Ronald Krueger, Dyson's chief executive, said this: "Now is the time to invest in new technologies such as energy storage, robotics and software which will drive performance and sustainability in our products for the benefit of Dyson's customers. We will expand our existing product categories, as well as enter entirely new fields for Dyson over the next five years. This will start a new chapter in Dyson's development."
Of course, with innovation comes risk. As new products enter the market, there is the danger of minor – or major – defects. Thankfully, across Europe we have robust processes in place for monitoring products and countries can, if required, take swift action to implement recalls.
That risk, however, is always present – even with existing products. There is great value in developing new and innovative products, and companies who can take chances and invest in research and development are likely to be the ones who will benefit the most in the years to come.
The sheer scale of investment being made by Dyson is, of course, something only some companies can make. But the ambition – the drive to do things differently, to embrace emerging fields like robotics and machine learning, without a guarantee of success – that is an approach which can be learned from.
As the famous saying goes, you have to speculate to accumulate. Perhaps it should be refined somewhat: you have to innovate to accumulate.