Automakers put stamp on US innovation survey

Automakers from around the world have made a significant impact on the 2013 Boston Consulting Group's (BCG) ranking of the most innovative companies.
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Traditionally the realm of technology and telecommunications companies, automotive manufacturers secured three of the top 10, nine of the top 20 and 14 of the top 50 spots in this year’s survey – a vast improvement over 2010 that saw only eight auto firms make it onto the list.

Toyota proved best in class, placing fifth ahead of Ford in eighth and BMW in ninth. General Motors claimed 13th, up 16 places and one ahead of Volkswagen in 14th that improved 31 positions. Hyundai, Honda, Audi and Mercedes-Benz parent company Daimler took out 17th to 20th respectively with electric car builder Tesla making it to 41st place in its first year on the list.

BMW i8

An index of the 50 companies that more than 1500 international executives rank as the most innovative, weighted to incorporate relative three-year shareholder returns, revenue growth, and margin growth, the 2013 BCG survey was still dominated by tech and telecom firms.

Apple (ranked number one every year since 2005), Samsung (up from 26 in 2008) and Google (ranked number two from 2006 to 2012) claimed the top three positions respectively, with Microsoft (4th) and IBM (6th) maintaining their position of finishing in the top 10 nearly every year since 2005.

BCG senior partner Kim Wagner said auto companies were leading the way in innovation.

“Tech and telecom still rule a big part of the innovation roost,” Wagner said.

“But we are also seeing a resurgence in recognition for the ability of traditional manufacturers to innovate in product, process and technology.”

Volkswagen e-Golf and e-Up!

A report based on the survey, titled The Most Innovative Companies 2013: Lessons from Leaders, also singled out five factors that lead to strength in innovation including senior-management commitment; ability to leverage intellectual property; customer focus; innovation portfolio management; and well-defined and governed processes.

The report’s authors also pointed out that strong innovators also listened to customers with 73 per cent of strong innovators saying the views of key customers played a significant role in the innovation and new-product programs. This compared with an overall marker of 56 per cent.

Longevity was another point of interest with more than half of the most innovative companies on the 2013 list being more than 50 years old, and a dozen able to trace their roots back to the nineteenth century.

Founded in 1963, the BCG is a global management consulting firm and business strategy advisor.

2013 Boston Consulting Group Innovation Survey Top 20:

  1. Apple
  2. Samsung
  3. Google
  4. Microsoft
  5. Toyota
  6. IBM
  7. Amazon
  8. Ford
  9. BMW
  10. General Electric
  11. Sony
  12. Facebook
  13. General Motors
  14. Volkswagen
  15. Coca-Cola
  16. Hewlett-Packard
  17. Hyundai
  18. Honda
  19. Audi
  20. Daimler