2010 BCG and BusinessWeek Innovation Survey Results

10 May 10

BYD Auto, Number 8 on the 2010 BCG Innovative Companies RankingThe seventh annual iteration of the Boston Consulting Group and Businessweek’s Global Innovation Survey presents us with some interesting trends in innovation. As BCG so eloquently puts it, a new world order is taking hold. While no drastic disruptions have occurred this year, there are signs that the times are changing. The most noteworthy finding this year is that Rapidly Developing Economies (RDEs), led by China, India, and Brazil, are slowly gaining ground on the western world’s  dominance in innovation. These countries have recognized innovation as the next arena to prove their capabilities and they are investing heavily in this effort. The RDE’s currently have an indispensable combination of fast GDP growth, prioritization of innovation, strong government support, and investment in talent-all of which help drive the group’s growing innovation success.

While the top ranked innovative global companies are mainly unchallenged, there are some hints of long term change. BYD, a Chinese manufacturer of automobiles and rechargeable batteries makes its debut on the list at number eight. The following companies round out the top twelve (check out our case studies on some of these key companies to learn from their innovation prowess):

  1. Apple (number one for the fifth year in a row!)
  2. Google
  3. Microsoft  Read the rest of this entry »

Some Useful iPhone Apps

1 December 09

A fellow futurethinker finally got an iPhone this past holiday weekend, bring the firm average back up to a respectable 75% adoption level.  Given the latest post, Do We Really Need an App for That?, I thought I’d try to list out some apps I actually do need and use fairly often, as a starting point for the new iPhone in the office.  This is in no way meant to be an exhaustive list, but merely a list of some apps I currently use that could be useful for others.  Here goes:

  • Remote: Great for controlling your iTunes without having to be at the computer — you just need to be connected to the same wireless network.
  • Air Mouse: even better for controlling your entire computer without having to be there.  Your iPhone is turned into a either a mouse or a trackpad.
  • WorkSnug: For the mobile worker, the never-ending search for your ‘third place’, complete with WiFi and coffee, is over with this app that uses augmented reality.  So far it only works in London, but they’re going to launch it in NYC and San Francisco soon, I hope.
  • Read the rest of this entry »

Do We Really Need an App for That?

30 November 09

We live in what the Huffington Post calls an evolving “Clickocracy,” one nation, under Google, with email and viral video for all. There’s no question that the ever-expanding universe of technological innovation pushes all of us to seek out the next big innovations of our own. Some organizations, however, are better at embracing new innovations than others.

Take, for example, the now ubiquitous iPhone App. When Apple launched its App Store back in 2007, it invited pretty much anyone to submit applications for the device using a toolkit of neat technologies. Some organizations have gone on to create genuinely useful, innovation applications for this platform. Like the popular website Yelp, whose app not only allows users to easily find and read reviews of nearby brick-and-mortar business, but nudges into the world of augmented reality by allowing users to hold their iPhone cameras up to a business storefront and instantly see ratings and reviews of that location without having to type a thing. For every App like Yelp, which takes full advantage of the iPhone’s interface and feature set and adds value to Yelp’s core offering, there are ten more that are, to put it mildly, completely useless. Read the rest of this entry »

Plugging Forward

31 March 09


It’s been an exciting few weeks for some of the world’s most famous innovators. Apple unveiled the latest iPhone/iPod Touch operating system (who knew software could be so exciting?) and unveiled its third-generation iPod shuffle. Amazon released the Kindle2, a welcomed follow-up to its popular eReader. Facebook updated its homescreen layout. Google released a new ‘Undo Send’ feature to GMail. The list goes on… you get the idea.

The point is that things are still happening-despite all the negativity out there, smart companies are still plugging forward and improving their offerings. The five companies mentioned here have always kept things fresh with a pipeline of updates and enhancements, and that’s part of the reason these companies have done well. Just when things start to feel stale, they give their customers something new. Enhancements and updates are a relatively quick, low-risk way to keep innovation alive (and demand high) regardless of what’s happening in the economy.

What can you do to invigorate demand by freshening up your offerings? What small, meaningful enhancements and upgrades can you release? If you’re at a loss for ideas, just talk to your customers or scan customer reviews and you’ll uncover a trove of potentially valuable ideas. Just remember, innovation doesn’t always have to be ground-breaking and risky… sometimes the little things can have a big impact.

What does innovation look like for your organization given the state of the economy?

Amazon’s Kindle2

9 February 09

Meet Amazon’s just-announced Kindle2. The device is an update to the Kindle, which launched in November of 2007. The Kindle2 is, at its heart, very much the same device as its predecessor. The most notable difference in the updated model is a sleeker new form factor, which incorporates improvements to many of the details users used to complain about. For example, there are now two sets of page turn buttons on either side of the screen, allowing users to hold the device in either hand. Other improvements include faster page turns, improved battery life, and a text-to-speech option which lets users hear their books read out loud (albeint in a roboticized voice). The device still retails for $359, and all open orders for the original Kindle will be fulfilled with the updated model instead. Read the rest of this entry »

The Apple of My Eye? (Not So Much)

11 July 08

So, I was looking forward to writing a post today on the whole 3G iPhone launch and the iPhone Software 2.0 and the wonders of the Apps store. But I can’t.

My iPhone is dead. “Bricked” as they say… Read the rest of this entry »

Apple. Coming to a Gym Near You.

14 March 08


futurethink apple nike

Two years after their first foray into the Nike+ Apple partnership (which resulted in the Nike+ iPod Sports Kit), the two companies have announced a new venture. The unlikely couple has been working with major fitness equipment manufacturers (Life Fitness, TechnoGym, Precor) to integrate the Nike+ iPod technology into cardiovascular equipment such as treadmills and stationary bikes.

The current Nike+ iPod kit tracks runners’ stats using a special shoe-based pedometer/receiver and an iPod dongle. The new technology would allow users to plug their iPod directly into a cardio machine to capture workout stats and information. That information can then be uploaded to the Nike+ website so users can track their progress and performance. Read the rest of this entry »