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The Most Innovative Companies in 2015

Innovation continues to rise in importance. In The Boston Consulting Group’s tenth annual global survey of the state of innovation, 79% of respondents ranked innovation as either the top priority or the top-three priorities in their company.

Apple and Google again hold the top two spots. Tesla Motors, which has been moving up the list at the speed of one of its Model S sedans, reached number three. Fast-tech companies, tech-savvy automakers, and a company that exemplifies scientific expertise combined with lean R&D in the pharmaceutical industry round out the top ten.

Given the strong impact of technological developments such as mobile technology and social media in the last decade, one might expect technology companies to have shoved aside their more traditional counterparts. Yet we still see plenty of traditional companies on the list. They, too, have used technological advances to their own innovative ends. Five of the top ten companies in 2015 are nontech companies (although one, Tesla Motors, bridges a couple of sectors)—the same number in our first survey ten years ago. On the larger list of the 50 most innovative companies, 38 (76%) are nontech companies.

The top 50 list is a global group: 29 companies from the US, 11 from Europe, and 10 from Asia. Emerging markets also make their presence felt: there are three companies from China and one from India.

The four key drivers in the 2015 report are:

1. Speed has long been a priority and is one of the major sources of differentiation for true breakthrough innovators, as we dis- cussed last year. In fact, the percentage of respondents in 2015 citing the importance of quickly adopting new technologies jumped 22% over 2014.

2. Lean R&D processes have a major effect on speed—as well as on multiple other areas. It’s no surprise then, that the percentage of respondents citing improvements in operating processes as crucial to innovation increased this year. Lean methodologies that were originally developed for manufacturing are now being applied in a sophisticated manner to R&D and new-product development, and they are having a big and growing impact in such industries as industrial goods, healthcare, and high tech.

3. In most companies, technology used to live in its own silo—the IT department. Today, digital, mobile, big data, and other technologies are used to support and enable innovation across the organization, from new-product development to manufacturing to go-to-market strategies in multiple industries.

4. Finally, many companies facing slow growth in their core businesses are looking to expand into adjacent markets. To do so, they frequently leverage existing capabilities in lean, speed, and technology platforms to enable innovations, whether next door or further afield.

The full report can be found here

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