Date: 1/24/2013

Boston Consulting Group

BCG Names the World's 50 Most Innovative Companies

Technology and telecommunications companies continue to dominate The Boston Consulting Group’s top 50 list, however industrial goods companies made a strong showing in 2012.

The Boston Consulting Group (BCG) recently released its latest list of the world’s 50 most innovative companies.

The list, published in “The Most Innovative Companies 2012: The State of the Art in Leading Industries,” continues to be dominated by technology and telecommunications firms. The top seven spots belonged to such companies: Apple (#1), Google (#2), Samsung (#3), Microsoft (#4), Facebook (#5), IBM (#6), and Sony (#7). In all, 15 of the 50 were technology and telecommunications companies.

Several of these companies have demonstrated impressive staying power in the top rankings:

  • Apple has been number one every year since 2005;

  • Google has been number two every year since 2006;

  • Microsoft has been in the top ten every year since 2005; and

  • IBM and Sony have been in the top ten nearly every year since 2005.

Industrial Companies Increase Presence
However, industrial products and processes companies are making significant inroads. In 2012, 10 of the top 50 most innovative companies were industrials, compared with just three in 2010

Twenty percent of the most innovative companies were traditional industrials, the greatest representation of industrial companies in the survey’s history. Five diversified industrial companies entered or returned to the list (Caterpillar, DuPont, Philips, 3M, and BASF) and two aerospace companies (Boeing and Airbus) entered or re-entered the list.

BCG’s research reveals that innovation is a top strategic priority for a majority of industrial-company CEOs. In addition, the list shows a noticeable shift toward “diversified conglomerates”: companies that operate across multiple industries, which have measurable advantages in scale and scope and can add innovative value from the center to diverse business units. Eleven of the top 50 most innovative companies were diversified conglomerates.

Other industries included on the list—which was based on a survey of more than 1,500 senior executives—include

  • Consumer and retail (12 companies);

  • Automotive (10);

  • Energy and environment (2); and

  • Financial services (1).,

Key Findings
Significant findings gleaned from the report include:

  • Innovation is a top-three priority for 78 percent of the industrial companies and 84 percent of industrial company CEOs;

  • Overall, 76 percent of companies list innovation as a top-three priority;

  • Seventy-four percent of industrial companies plan to increase innovation investment, compared to an overall average of 69 percent: the highest level for industrial companies in the survey’s history;

  • Respondents from industrial companies are more likely to rate themselves as focusing on incorporating the voice of the consumer: 75 percent vs. an average 66 percent; and

  • Sixty-one percent of respondents from industrial companies consider themselves adept at understanding their markets and where to target innovation, compared to an average 50 percent.

The Top 50
The complete list includes:
1. Apple (technology and telecommunications)
2. Google (technology and telecommunications)
3. Samsung (technology and telecommunications)
4. Microsoft (technology and telecommunications)
5. Facebook (technology and telecommunications)
6. IBM (technology and telecommunications)
7. Sony (technology and telecommunications)
8. Haier (consumer and retail)
9. Amazon (consumer and retail)
10. Hyundai (automotive)
11. Toyota (automotive)
12. Ford (automotive)
13. Kia Motors (automotive)
14. BMW (automotive)
15. Hewlett-Packard (technology and telecommunications)
16. General Electric (industrial products and processes)
17. Coca-Cola (consumer and retail)
18. Dell (technology and telecommunications)
19. Intel (technology and telecommunications)
20. Wal-Mart (consumer and retail)
21. Starbucks (consumer and retail)
22. Nissan (automotive)
23. BASF (industrial products and processes)
24. HTC (technology and telecommunications)
25. Audi (automotive)
26. Siemens (industrial products and processes)
27. Lenovo (technology and telecommunications)
28. HSBC (financial services)
29. General Motors (automotive)
30. Anheuser-Busch (consumer and retail)
31. SoftBank (technology and telecommunications)
32. Fast Retailing Co. (consumer and retail)
33. Philips (industrial products and processes)
34. Renault (automotive)
35. Shell (energy and environment)
36. Huawei (technology and telecommunications)
37. Virgin (consumer and retail
38. Boeing (industrial products and processes)
39. Nike (consumer and retail)
40. Caterpillar (industrial products and processes)
41. McDonald's (consumer and retail)
42. DuPont (industrial products and processes)
43. Twitter (technology and telecommunications)
44. China Petroleum & Chemical (energy and environment)
45. Volkswagen (automotive)
46. Airbus (industrial products and processes)
47. Tata (industrial products and processes)
48. Inditex (consumer and retail)
49. Procter & Gamble (consumer and retail)
50. 3M (industrial products and processes)

Since 2004, BCG has surveyed senior executives in a wide range of countries and industries to help illuminate the state of innovation. The report also details the major industry and company trends that have emerged since the survey began and maps the innovation landscape in four major industries that dominated the list in 2012—industrial products and processes, automotive, consumer and retail, and technology and telecommunications—as well as in an industry that has struggled to regain its place: health care.

The complete report, which was co-authored by BCG’s Andrew Taylor, Kim Wagner, and Hadi Zablit, is available at BCG is a global management consulting firm and the world’s leading advisor on business strategy. It partners with clients from the private, public, and not-for-profit sectors to identify high-value opportunities, address the most critical challenges, and transform enterprises. Founded in 1963, BCG is a private company with 78 offices in 43 countries. For more information, visit

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