What is the most innovative technology today

Most innovative companies 2020: Apple ahead of Amazon and Microsoft

What's innovative? In the original sense: new ideas, small and large inventions. Simple: creativity. Or surprises, like the one at the beginning of January: the Japanese electronics company Sony presented the prototype of an electric car at the CES technology fair in Las Vegas - to the astonishment of the professional world. The silver-colored sports car called Vision-S was the materialized culmination of a technical development that the company had undergone for years. In the 1990s, Sony stood for electronics for at home and on the go: for the stereo system and Walkman, later for the Discman and Playstation. Today Sony also develops sensors, among other things for the automotive industry.

Sony is an example of a new dimension of innovation, at least when it comes to the Boston Consulting Group (BCG). Every year since 2005, the BCG has compiled a list of the 50 most innovative companies worldwide - and for the first time added the “Industry disruption” category to the latest ranking. Johann Harnoss, BCG innovation expert in Berlin and co-author of the study, explains: "Here we evaluate the ability of companies to be innovative and successful across industries and markets." In addition to the example of Sony, online giant Amazon is also involved in this context name: For a long time, US retailers stood primarily for innovations in online trading, he announced a few years ago that they also wanted to attack the insurance business.

For the sixth time, the Munich Strategy consultancy analyzed the innovative strength of 3,500 medium-sized companies on behalf of WirtschaftsWoche. Who made it into the top 100.

Since BCG first compiled the list in 2005, only 20 companies have made it onto this list more than ten times. Among them are of course the usual suspects from the USA (Alphabet, Apple, Amazon, Microsoft, Facebook, IBM) and South Korea (Samsung), but also three German companies with BMW, Siemens and Daimler. Not surprisingly, the US and South Korea giants mentioned are again among the top ten of the most innovative companies this year, while BMW and Daimler are not in the list this year: Apple leads the ranking, followed by Alphabet , Amazon, Microsoft and Samsung.

But the newcomers and newcomers are more surprising and interesting. And here the performance of those companies that were not even represented in the ranking last year is to be rated higher than those that made big leaps within the top 50. Because: "The top 50 are the Champions League," says BCG man Harnoss. Means: Who is inside is more visible than who is not inside. It may be bearable to slip a few places within this Champions League.

Only three companies have moved up into the Top10 this year: The Chinese technology company Huawei climbed a remarkable 42 places to sixth place, despite security concerns and the associated US sanctions. The Chinese trading group Alibaba placed directly behind (plus 16 places) - and in ninth place is the aforementioned Sony for the first time, which did not make it into the top 50 last year.

Digital first? In Germany, fear and doubts about technologies still all too often beat the desire to try something new. That should change if we want to win the future.

For this year's ranking, the BCG people researched and analyzed before the outbreak of the corona pandemic: more than 1,200 companies worldwide from 19 branches of industry examined, and more than 2,500 managers questioned the consultants. After the USA, Germany has the second most innovation drivers with six companies. In addition to the most innovative German company Siemens (in 21st place), SAP, Adidas, VW, Bosch and Bayer are represented. For BCG, the decisive factor is how diversified the companies are in their innovation efforts. The guiding principle is: the more diversified, the greater the company value. BCG identified the three most diversified German representatives in Siemens, SAP and Bayer.

Size and budget have a decisive influence on innovative strength

Which factors influence the placements? BCG expert Harnoss explains: "The first point is as simple as it is fundamental: How heavily does the CEO weight the topic of innovation?" equipping the very best talent? Here at the latest, Harnoss believes, you can recognize those who mean business. But will alone is of course not enough: According to BCG, company size and the available budget are directly related to innovative strength: The global innovation leaders now identified spend an average of 40 percent more money on investments in research and development of new business models than the average of all companies examined .

“The second point is the type of innovation,” explains Harnoss: “We differentiate between product or service innovation, process innovation, which is often equated with digitization. And finally: the business model innovation. This is the most demanding type of innovation - and therefore also the least common. ”The best example of this is the App Store, which Apple introduced in 2008 to establish a new type of sales model. Or new trends that startups often try and which are later taken over by large companies - such as the razor-blade subscription startup "Dollar shave Club" from California, which the consumer goods giant Unilever bought in 2016 for around one billion dollars.

Even if the ranking was made without taking Corona into account, BCG also made a calculation that picks up on the virus. The consultants investigated the question of whether the 50 most innovative companies are also more successful than the rest. For a comparison period from mid-February to mid-August 2020, the consultants compared the price development of the top 50 companies with the MSCI World Index. Result: the total return on shares of the 50 most innovative companies was around 6 percentage points higher.

The ten biggest climbers among the most innovative companies in the world in 2020:
Rank 6: Huawei (plus 42)
The technology and telecommunications giant from Shenzhen, China (sales: 109 billion euros) was able to jump 42 places in the ranking despite the tough US sanctions. Huawei is one of the largest smartphone manufacturers in the world, and the group also builds processors and modem chips.

Rank 7: Alibaba (up 16)
The trading platform from the Chinese metropolis of 9 million Hangzhou, founded by Jack Ma in 1999, improved by 16 places compared to the previous year. Alibaba is one of the largest IT companies in China with annual sales of recently measured 60 billion euros.

Rank 9: Sony (new)
The Japanese electronics giant from Tokyo (sales: around 70 billion euros) is the highest newcomer among the most innovative companies - and surprised the professional world at the beginning of the year with the prototype of an electric car.

Rank 13: Walmart (up 29)
The US grocer based in the small town of Bentonville (Arkansas) tops the current "Fortune" list of the world's largest companies, with annual sales of the equivalent of 439 billion euros. Walmart climbed 29 places on the BCG table. In the recent battle with competitor Amazon, the US retailer attracted attention through the takeover of IT companies such as Aspectiva (from Israel) and Polymorph Labs (from San Francisco) in its in-house start-up incubator “Store No. 8th". In the meantime, Walmart has registered more patents for delivery drones than Amazon and is cooperating with Google on voice-controlled ordering.

Rank 14: Tencent (new)
The Chinese Internet company Tencent (turnover: 46 billion euros), which, like Huawei, has its headquarters in Shenzhen, has also entered the innovation rankings. The group includes the all-purpose application Wechat, which is very popular in China, the online payment method Tenpay as well as a search engine and numerous games.

Rank 15: HP (plus 29)
The IT company from San José, the epitome of the US start-up, improved by 29 places. Last year, Hewlett Packard turned over the equivalent of 49 billion euros.

Rank 16: Nike (new)
The world's largest sporting goods manufacturer, based in Beaverton near Portland, Oregon, is the third-highest newcomer in the list of the most innovative companies. Last year, Nike had sales of around 33 billion euros - and invested in technology. In the meanwhile three cities (New York, Shanghai and most recently Paris), Nike also opened a so-called House of Innovation with all sorts of technical gadgets such as scans, fitting recommendations and virtual courses.

Rank 19: Intel (new)
The semiconductor manufacturer from Silicon Valley (sales: 60 billion euros) is also newly represented among the most innovative companies. In addition to processors for data centers, Intel also builds chips that are used for driver assistance systems.

Rank 20: Dell (up 21)
The computer manufacturer from Texas (sales: 76 billion euros) is putting a lot of energy (and hope) into the data cloud business, which also includes a number of takeovers. In the BCG table of the world's most innovative companies, Dell rose 21 places.

Rank 22: Target (new)
Target, based in Minneapolis, is one of the largest grocery stores in the USA - but with a turnover equivalent to 63 billion euros, it is only about a seventh the size of market leader Walmart. Target is represented in the innovation ranking this year - not without reason: In 2017, the group took over the Shipt delivery service for around 460 million euros, since then it has offered its customers nationwide delivery on the same day to its more than 1,500 branches.

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