For the first time, there's a shakeup at the top of BCG's annual list of the most innovative companies. In this year's global survey of more than 2,500 senior innovation leaders, longtime leader Apple ranks third, and Google (or its parent company, Alphabet) and Amazon move up to first and second place, respectively. Microsoft and Samsung round out the top five.
Although tech companies hold nine of the top ten places, traditional industries are account for more than half of the top 50 list. Adidas (#10), Boeing (#11), BASF (#12), Johnson & Johnson (#14), and DowDuPont (#15) rank in the top 15. T-Mobile (#13), DowDuPont, Vale (#19), Stryker (#35), and Rio Tinto (#49) join the list for the first time.
The rising importance of digital technology continues to be an overarching megatrend for innovators. In particular, BCG's new report, The Most Innovative Companies 2019: The Rise of AI, Platforms, and Ecosystems, finds that innovators are increasingly embracing AI as a way to develop new products and services and improve internal innovation. In addition, innovators are embracing technology platforms and their cousin, ecosystems, to tap into sources of external innovation and differentiation.
"Digital technology and external innovation have become watchwords," says Ramón Baeza, a BCG senior partner and report coauthor. "All of the top ten companies—and many in the top 50—use AI, platforms, and ecosystems to enable themselves and others to pursue new products, services, and ways of working."
Among survey respondents, 90% reported that their companies are investing in AI. More than 30% expect AI to be among the innovation areas with the highest impact on their businesses in the next three to five years. Almost 30% are actively targeting AI in their innovation programs.
BCG (Boston Consulting Group) is a global management consulting firm and advisor on business strategy.