Why Innovation Now?

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“Innovation is one of the key drivers of everything that goes on in business,” says London Business School Dean Sir Andrew Likierman. Organizations realize that innovation keeps them on the cutting edge of everything from technology to lifestyle to marketing and entertainment.

Why has innovation become so important? As Microsoft Co-Founder Bill Gates puts it, “innovation fundamentally shifts the trajectory of development.” Two insightful examples of how innovation changes market trajectories are Apple and Google.

Both companies launched disruptive technologies that significantly changed the destinies of their respective markets. Apple, in particular, is one of the most stellar examples of how innovation can catapult a company forward.

In 2001, Apple’s revenues were down $2.6 billion, compared to the $8 billion in fiscal year 2000 revenues. In a little over a decade, Apple went from a loss-making company to the world’s most valuable corporation.

The lesson was not lost on the executive suite. By July 2011, just four years after the iPhone shipped, a global survey by Forbes and Wipro reported that two-thirds of C-level executives (PDF) believed that innovation was more critical than ever, in particular in light of the economic downturn of 2008-09.

Another way to gauge the importance of innovation in the workplace is by examining job titles. In August 2010, only 700 people reported having the words “Chief Innovation Officer” in their LinkedIn profile title.

That number skyrocketed to 8,471 by August 2016 (chart below). Part of that 1,110% growth came from the hybridization of titles, i.e. “Chief Strategy and Innovation Officer,” but the remarkable jump demonstrates just how mission-critical innovation has become.

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Kudos to those companies that have created an innovation strategy backed by the human resources to implement it.

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