In its tenth annual survey, the Boston Consulting Group (BCG) has announced the 50 Most Innovative Companies of 2015, as well as the four key elements that differentiate leaders.
According to the survey, Apple and Google have retained first and second place, with Tesla Motors, Microsoft and Samsung completing the top five.
In its new report, The Most Innovative Companies 2015: Four Factors that Differentiate Leaders, BCG’s research reveals the following as four factors that single out leading companies:
The increasing need for greater innovation speed
According to Rakesh Kapoor, CEO of Reckitt Benckiser, “Size can give you scale, but for innovation, speed is more critical.” With speed, companies are able to grasp consumer trends as they materialise and according to BCG’s 2015 survey, long development times were repeatedly mentioned as a hindrance to returns on innovation and product development.
Achieving lean research and development (R&D) processes
BCG research conducted separately shows companies that understand lean R&D methodologies gain major competitive advantages by developing better quality products up to six months sooner than their competitors.
“It takes a deft touch to get processes right in R&D—you need appropriate control, but not so much that you quash creativity, the lifeblood of R&D,” said Michael Ringel, a BCG partner and report co-author. “It’s all about doing the work right and doing the right work…”
Enabling technological innovation
Digital and data-based technologies, in particular are effective tools, and technology at leading companies is progressing from a silo to a foundation for revolutionary innovation in products, services, and business models.
Exploring adjacent markets
Innovative companies that have repeatedly made BCG’s annual list, for example, Proctor & Gamble and General Electric have succeeded by introducing new products in adjacent markets that lead to profitable growth. Tech-based innovators like Apple and Google have followed a similar approach for good reasons. Growth in the core portfolio predictably slows down as markets mature and become more competitive, so adjacencies open new growth possibilities.
Despite the strong influence of technological advancements such as social media and mobile technology, 76% of the top companies in 2015 are non-tech companies. The 50 most innovative companies list comprises 29 companies from the US, 11 from Europe, and 10 from Asia.