“Innovate or die,” goes the oft-cited corporate cry, and according to The Boston Consulting Group’s most recent survey of innovation and new-product development, companies across all industries and regions have taken the admonition to heart. Respondents ranked the importance of innovation higher than ever, building on a trend of the last five years.
BCG has explored the state of innovation with eight surveys since 2005. The data collected from more than 1,500 senior executives each year allow for comparisons over time as well as across regions and industries. The findings capture executives’ views of their own innovation plans, as well as their opinions of other companies’ innovation track records. As in past surveys, the 2013 results reveal the 50 companies that executives rank as the most innovative, weighted to incorporate relative three-year shareholder returns, revenue growth, and margin growth. The list has its share, as always, of well-known technology innovators (especially among the top ten), but automakers also show a strong surge, a trend that began last year and gathered strength in the current results. This time, we also asked respondents to identify up-and-coming companies at which innovation is driving rapid growth.
The 2013 report examines companies and innovation through the lens of what gives successful innovators their edge. For the first time, we asked respondents to rate their companies’ innovation performance relative to their peers in the marketplace. Approximately one-fifth rated their own performance as strong, another fifth assessed their performance as weak, and about 60 percent said it was neutral or average. In addition to comparing the practices of stronger and weaker innovators, we explore five factors that lead to strength in innovation: the commitment of senior management, the ability to leverage intellectual property (IP), a customer focus, strong management of the innovation portfolio, and well-defined and governed processes.