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5 Drivers of Business Innovation

Innovation is critical not only to business success, but to its very survival.  Why is innovation so important? Fresh approaches, new ways of delivering ideas, visual and content changes all keep people interested and coming back. Innovation is NOT exclusive to big brands, but is, in fact, essential for ALL brands.


Fast Company lists the Top 50 Most Innovative Companies [1], those firms that transform and impact their industry time and again.  There are 5 drivers of innovation:

These 50 made the list because they all demonstrate these drivers and ultimately offer up fresh, fun and fab.

The Fast Company’s list is a mix of  Icons — Amazon, UPS, NFL, HBO — and New-cons,  like Solar City,  Kiva Systems, Pinterest [2] and Square. These companies are full of new ideas and untapped niches from everything like monitoring the oceans deep to solving customers pet peeves to becoming a dairy superstar. Others simply take a new twist on a tried and true concept, like Starbucks [3] who is recognized for its ability to infuse a steady stream of new ideas in order to revive its business, and the NFL [4], an organization that is able to create year-round demand for professional football.

Let’s look at some of these inspiring, innovative companies in some key categories:

Paypal [5] has enabled online payments  to more than 9 million web retailers, and the giant is now partnering with other retailers to push its platform into the physical world. Square [6] is changing the old act of exchanging money for goods and services through apps and other cool tools.

Web and Internet
Badoo offers a new twist on the world of internet dating and Pinterest has transformed web images into a visual feast.

Pandora internet radio blew estimates out of the water and its listener stats continue to increase. Ticketmaster finally found more ways to attract customers and give them a reason to want to go to and stay on the site.

Instagram [7] has completely transformed the way people take professional looking photos and post them to all the social sites, and Flipboard [7] emerged as another tool for consuming and organizing content.

Twitter [8] continues to drive the viral, immediate global dialogue and the New York Times (NYT [9]) online proved that digital and print sales can work together.

Social Media
American Express [10] has been an early adopter and innovator offering new mobile platforms and online business content. Facebook [11] is the most intuitive,  innovative and engaging social platform, that all others continue to chase.

Amazon [12] continues to show it can profit off both hardware and media sales and Patagonia [13] is setting the bar for sustainability.

All of these examples show how trends [14], demographics and psycho-graphics impact the consumer and lifestyle world. Innovation is vital to keeping up with how we are all aging, changing and consuming.

BusinessLink walks you through the creative process toward innovation.

Seth Godin talks about making a rukus in your industry [15] by “bringing forward a new idea or technology that disrupts and demands a response, or redefining a service as a product.”

Most innovation is inspired by simply emulating what the best are doing, as demonstated by the Top 50 above.  We redecorate, rebrand our businesses, and makeover our look and wardrobe. This is inspired by innovation and relevance, important partners.

So, how can you innovate and inspire your business clients, social followers, friends and raging fans?

Driver [16] Photo via Shutterstock