Tuesday, April 14, 2009

The Most Innovative Companies 2009

I have been flipping through Businessweek's Most Innovative Companies top 50 for 2009. Apart from the expected technology-related companies (Apple, Microsoft, IBM, Intel...) there are retailers (Target, WalMart), several telephone carriers (AT&T, Verizon, Vodafone) and surprisingly auto and financial services companies.

Well, regarding the two latter categories, if they have not been innovative they'd better get their innovation mojo working. The main problem for me is that they have so much at stake that it would be complicated for them to reinvent (=destroy) themselves.
  • They could potentially do it from the product side if they think wildly enough. In one of my first posts I mentioned a lecture by Mr. Tetsuya Kaida from Toyota Motor Corporation. One of his aspirational principles was being able to produce cars that not only do not pollute but also have a positive impact in the environment.
  • Ditching their current business models is a very different thing. This is probably the critical issue. I cannot think of companies "disrupting" their own business models before they are in dire need. Any examples?
In the top 50 list there is another interesting finding, particularly for me as a Spaniard.

España is in the Businessweek Innovation Top 50!

There are three Spanish companies in the top 50:
  • #28 Telefonica, the leading telecommunications operator in the Spanish and Portuguese-speaking world.
  • #39 Iberdrola, the world's biggest wind-power company.
  • #42 Banco Santander, pioneer in applying consumer-marketing techniques to the financial services industry in Spain, worldwide top 3 bank in terms of profits.
All three are large companies that have been around for a long while. In fact most of the companies in the list are large and relatively old firms. It can be a bias in the methodology employed to select the candidates, but why aren't there smaller, crazier companies? The study is based on a research by a major management consulting firm, does that play a role in the final selection of companies?

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