In response to the 2020 economic shockwaves, three quarters of businesses have made innovation their top priority in 2021. Boston Consulting Group’s (BCG), latest report on corporate innovations, warns that priorities are not sufficient. It is important to be able to quickly innovate.
The report Most Innovative Companies 2021: Overcoming Innovation Readiness Gap found that 75% have made innovation their top priority for 2021, an increase of 10 percentage points. This is the biggest year-on-year growth since 2005. Innovation is now the top priority for many businesses that were forced to drastically change their operations by the pandemic.
According to BCG researchers, while businesses are quick to put innovation at the top their agendas, they lack the processes, systems and capabilities necessary to make it happen. Below is a chart from the report that shows the range of benchmarks companies need to score high to show their willingness to invent.
Only 20% of respondents are ready to bring the innovations they consider essential to their success, according to the report.
According to BCG research, the most innovative companies in 2021 are those that combine the desire to innovate and the systems, leadership, and processes necessary to make it happen. While many of these companies are well-known, some of them have risen to the top of the list after the advent of COVID-19.
The top 10 rankings are dominated by global tech giants, with Apple winning first place over Alphabet, Google’s parent company. The top five include Amazon, Microsoft, and Tesla.
Pfizer, the pharmaceutical company, is ranked 10th in the world for its innovation. It partnered with BioNTech in 2020 to revolutionize vaccine production and development when it was faced with the daunting task of controlling the worst pandemic in human history.
According to the BCG report, Pfizer-BioNTech is credited with being “the innovation story” of the year. Pfizer and BioNTech collaborated to reduce the time it took to develop a COVID-19 vaccine. Moderna (number 42) is another COVID-19 vaccine designer gets similar praise.
Pfizer has increased its resources for vaccine design and invested more than $120million in partnership to develop treatment options for cancer, genetic disorders, and immunology.
COVID-19 a key driver
Amazon (number three) is a fast-growing tech company that has adapted to the growing demand for safe shopping and quick delivery. Lockdowns had closed vast swathes in the retail sector.
Panic buying was a hallmark of panic buying in the early stages. Fearing that food supply chains would collapse, panic buying led to some supermarket shelves being emptied in certain countries. Target (number 18), Walmart (number 23), and Walmart (number 23), were among the largest retailers to invest in e-commerce in response to a large spike in food demand.
According to the BCG report, a willingness to invent was a significant advantage. It allowed for faster recovery from the downturn that was caused by the pandemic. The chart below shows how the most innovative companies in last year’s MSCI World Index outperformed all other businesses.
A host of World Economic Forum partners are among the top 50 innovators. They lead the way in setting clear goals, prioritizing performance, pushing project management, and developing talent and culture.
Forum members are also committed to inspiring the next generation of innovative companies. The Global Lighthouse Network consists of organizations that are leading innovation in advanced manufacturing.
The BCG report shows that innovation is not a luxury for corporate executives. Businesses that are open to change and adaptable to the changing world will be the ones that thrive in the post-pandemic era.