The Boston Consulting Group released its 10th annual listing of the world’s 50 Most Innovative Companies this morning. The list is based on a survey of 1,500 C-suite executives, who were asked to rank companies across industries and within their own industry. It also gives weight to total returns to shareholders over five years.
The top three on the list, Apple, Google and Tesla, come as no surprise. But it gets interesting after that. Samsung made a respectable number five.
Automakers other than Tesla earned three more spots in the top ten: Toyota (6), BMW (7) and Daimler (10.) The study´s co-author Andrew Taylor says the strong showing reflects how much autos have changed in the last decade, both in their power trains and as “delivery systems for other innovative technologies.”
Overall, three quarters of the companies in the top 50 were non-tech, including firms as diverse as Japan’s Fast Retailing (15), Disney (18) and Marriott (19) MAR -0.79%.
There are no Chinese companies in the top ten. Tencent is first at 12, and then there’s a big jump to Huawei (45) and Lenovo (50). Taylor said that is an increase from a decade ago, when there were no Chinese companies on the list, and he thinks their presence will grow. “The rate of innovation of Chinese companies is increasing, and the perception of their innovation is increasing,” he said, “but with a lag.”
The BCG survey found the importance of speed in business innovation is on the rise, with executives citing overly long development times as the biggest obstacle to innovation. It also noted the changing role of technology across industries. “Technology used to live in its own silo—the IT department,” the report says. “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.”
Overall, innovation continues to rise in importance. In the survey 79% of respondents ranked innovation as either the top-most priority or a top-three priority at their company, the highest percentage since BCG began asking the question in 2005, when 66% said innovation was their top or among their three top priorities. At the same time, science and technology continue to be seen as increasingly important underpinnings of innovation, enabling four attributes that many executives identify as critical: an emphasis on speed, well-run (and very often lean) R&D processes, the use of technological platforms, and the systematic exploration of adjacent markets.