After the profound instability that has roiled markets since 2007, innovation is once again alive and well in most parts of the world. The list of top-50 innovators continues to be heavily weighted toward technology and telecommunications companies, including Apple, Google, Samsung, and IBM. (See Exhibit 1.) Not surprisingly for such a fast-moving industry, however, technology and telecommunications companies have also shown some of the highest volatility in the rankings, rising and falling dramatically in position and frequently dropping off the list altogether.
According to our 2012 survey, innovation is rapidly moving up the CEO agenda across regions and industries. Seventy-six percent of respondents ranked innovation as a “top-three” strategic priority—the highest level in our survey’s history. (See Exhibit 2.) Twenty-four percent said it was their top priority. CEOs felt even more strongly: 85 percent ranked innovation as a top-three priority, with 40 percent ranking it as the top priority.
This year we also found that companies are planning to put their money where their priorities are. Altogether, 69 percent of respondents said that they planned to increase their investment in innovation in 2012, up from 61 percent in 2010. (BCG did not publish a survey in 2011; see the Appendix.) That is the highest level in six years. Twenty percent of respondents plan to increase spending by more than 10 percent. There is also considerable regional variation, with companies in emerging markets ascribing higher priority to innovation and increasing their innovation spending. (See “Innovation Around the World.”) Companies that stand still will find themselves falling even further behind.