I love being at the forefront of innovation and change. In fact my role as an innovation advisor depends on it! Fortunately, greater openness in innovation and technology, is creating exciting new economic opportunities for start-ups and small business owners businesses who can acquire global marketing and product development capabilities that used to be available only to the world’s largest and wealthiest enterprises.
To keep abreast of the emerging trends, disruptive technology and new ideas I read on average a couple of hundred, posts, tweets or articles each day. But in my 25 years or so in this space there is one company that consistently leads from the front. In a innovation study recently released by Booz & Co. But it’s also had its tough times: In the early 1990s, the company squandered enormous resources and billions of dollars on a series of failed products like printers, scanners, and the Newton PDA. Its efforts to do every- thing itself, building capabilities as varied as cutting- edge hardware development and volume manufactur- ing, led to huge losses and massive layoffs.
But once Steve Jobs returned as chairman and CEO in 1997, Apple began to focus its portfolio and its capabilities. I was fortunate to be invited to 1 Infinite Circuit Cupertino the following year about the time the iMac was released. Apple has since concentrated very selectively on what it does well, and what really differentiates it from its peers: deep understanding of end-users, a high-touch consumer experience, intuitive user interfaces, sleek product design, and iconic branding. For example, Apple narrowed its product line and began leveraging the Apple brand through its Apple Store retail strategy.
Innovators – Booz & Co
The results speak for themselves. Apple’s profitability and market cap are well above the industry average, and this year our survey respondents voted it far and away the most innovative company — all of which it achieved while consistently spending far less on R&D as a percentage of sales than the median company in the computing and electronics sector.