Innovation is the lifeblood of our global economy and a strategic priority for all CEOs everywhere. It all begins with a game-changer. It’s all about visionary leadership, a business, an event, an idea, a product or a procedure that effects a significant shift in the current way of doing or thinking about something. A game changer is the “ah-ha” moment of inspiration, where you see something others don’t. It’s what takes an organization from ordinary to world-class.

 

Companies that do it right

Companies that generate new ideas begin by creating the right corporate culture, questioning, challenging the status quo, observing the existing processes and improving them, and by testing and trying out new ideas. They are companies like:

  • 3M – for their culture of innovation
  • Nike – for their relentless new products and loyal community
  • Patagonia – for their deep understanding of their core market and for counterintuitive marketing
  • Starbucks – for making social value a key part of their coffee experience strategy and for franchising excellence
  • GE – for doing good and making money while developing their strategy of reverse innovation
  • Toyota – for relentless production process improvements
  • Corning – for innovation in LED technology
  • Intuitive Surgical – for mind-boggling robotic surgical systems
  • Amazon – for their strategic vision, ecommerce platform, delivery to customer and expansion
  • Salesforce – for raising cloud computing into the stratosphere
  • Square – for innovation in mobile payments
  • Splunk – for gathering big data,  indexing it in real time and making it available to us
  • Apple – for consistently giving us products that we didn’t even know we wanted
  • Samsung – for imitating and improving
  • Eli Lilly – for allowing people to try, even if they fail and holding their annual R&D Outcome Celebrations
  • Google – for knowing the customer, providing value-added services and encouraging engineers to exchange ideas
  • Facebook – for a vision of web access for all
  • Twitter – for changing how people communicate world-wide
  • Instagram – for innovating how we take and share pictures
  • Microsoft – for innovations in home entertainment
  • IBM – for re-reinventing itself
  • Netflix – for their flat organization structure that enables them to be nimble
  • Buzzfeed – for reinventing how news is shared
  • Juniper Networks – for cohesive products and services that make up their IT network infrastructures
  • Intuit – for innovative business and financial management solutions
  • Tencent Holdings – for developing an industry of internet and online gaming (China)
  • Rakuten – for its “we can do it” attitude and dynamic growth in e-commerce, mobile shopping, banking, travel, etc. (Japan)
  • TMall and Taobao –  2 companies for fueling the dramatic growth in e-commerce (China)
  • Baidu – for being the first Chinese company (Internet search engine) included in Nasdaq 100 index (China)
  • Cisco – for involving all its employees in I-Prize and coming up with innovative ideas and for a vision of the Internet of everything
  • Natura Cosmeticos – for amazing growth in cosmetics and personal hygiene products (Brazil)
  • L’Oreal – for cosmetics branding excellence (France)
  • Hindustan Unilever – for market development and distribution in cosmetics and personal hygiene products (India)
  • Whole Foods Market – for making social value the core of their strategy and walking the talk
  • Coca Cola – for having marketing campaigns that are consistently at the forefront
  • China Post – for teaming with TOM Group to operate e-commerce site ule.com (ule = Happy Mailing)
  • Singapore Post – for creating an end-to-end, e-commerce eco-system solution for retailers
  • Uber – for making use of mobile phone to reinvent transportation (order a car on demand)
  • Airbnb – for disruptive innovation in the hospitality / accomodations industry
  • Warby Parker – for its social-value stance, giving one pair of glasses to VisionSpring  for every pair bought
  • GoPro – for their game-changing, video, action camera
  • Fiverr – for establishing a world-wide work-force of entrepreneurs
  • Tesla – for setting the benchmark as a new kind of automobile manufacturer

In the last 30 years we have seen a high number of game-changers – Personal Computers and Office Software, High-Speed Internet, Smart Mobile Phones, E-Mail, GPS Systems, Online Shopping, DNA Sequencing, Magnetic Resonance Imaging, Microfinancing and Microfranchising, Photovoltaic Solar Energy, Bar Codes, ATMs, Stents, Wind Turbines, X-Box, Wii, Podcasts, Robotics, Digital Photography, Genetically Modified Plants, 3D Printing, Bio Fuels, Touch-Screen IPads, Apps, Treatment for AIDS, Social Networking, Facebook, Twitter and so much more.

 The trends that will affect us all

Here are a few game-changing innovations that we believe will change the world:

  • Big Data (Advanced Business Analytics / Business Intelligence) will give companies a competitive edge and the ability to better manage day-to-day operations. Data visualization, wireless communications, and cloud infrastructure are extending the power and reach of information.
  • Cloud technologywill revamp data centers and will allow for massive amounts of data to be captured and mined.
  • Crowdsourcing will allow companies transfer work once done by employees to a large number of consumers in an open call often to solve innovation questions.
  • Smartphones will take on an increasing numer of new tasks, going beyond cameras, music, video games, gps, clocks, remote control, measuring tools, thermometers, compas, microscopes, calendars, etc. particularly in the developing world.
  • 3D printers for the home will revolutionize replacement parts
  • Corporate Social Responsibility and Social Value will engage employees, consumers and communities. The transparency brought on by Social Media will require that companies raise the level of their brand and develop social values as well as a new type of relationship with society and the environment.
  • Collaborative Social Network will engage business with its consumers and change the way new products are developed or distributed and the way business is conducted
  • IBM’s Jeopardy-winning computer, Watson, has rewritten the book on artifical intelligence. Today, Watson has turned its attention to cancer research; tomorrow it may replace knowledge workers in your business.
  • Retail Relevance – Today’s digital consumers want to enjoy the same rich online experience when they vist your bricks-and-mortar store.
  • The Envia lithium-ion battery and IBM’s lithium-air battery could greatly decrease the cost of electric vehicles.
  • Biofuels for Navy use and the Army’s Green Warrior Convoy project could make the services more energy efficient and less dependent on unstable foreign sources of fuel.
  • Floating, wind turbines could easily generate electricity.
  • Government-backed breakthroughs in power electronics could have enormous benefits to the energy economy.
  • Point Source Power company initially designed VOTO for backpackers and campers in wealthy countries so they could charge their devices during trips, now it is trying to find a way to make it accessible to residents of the developing world for daily use.
  • Yanko Design produced the Window Socket, a suction cup electrical outlet with solar panel that sticks to a window or can be left on any sunny surface and generates 10 hours of electricity for every 5 to 8 hours of sun. It can be of great benefit in the developing world.
  • Uncharted Play, a for-profit social enterprise,  developed the Soccket soccer ball, which uses an internal kinetically-powered pendulum to generate and store electricity. After about 30 minutes of play, the ball stores enough energy to power an attachable LED lamp for 3 hours.Potential Energy, a nonprofit dedicated to adapting and scaling technologies to help improve lives in the developing world has distributed more than 25,000 Berkeley-Darfur Stoves in Darfur and Ethiopia. The stove provides safe, energy-efficient, wood-burning.
  • MOOC’s or massive open online courses that allow free access to training from top universities and will increase our ability to learn and to innovate.
  • Active tourists from China and India who are expanding overseas in a quest for global presence and markets, creating jobs everywhere.
  • Stem-cell research is transforming the way we think about health, treat disease and the way we approach aging.
  • Sharing is replacing Owning – from DVD’s (Netflix) to cars (Zipcar).
  • Social Media has already affected the way we socialize with each other, meet life partners and address issues with businesses. It will continue to change us in ways we have yet to understand.
  • Electric Cars will have a true impact. We can expect an affordable Tesla electric car in three to four years.

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