The Global Innovation 1000: Proven Paths to Innovation Success
Ten years of research reveal the best R&D strategies for the decade ahead.
Post by Barry Jaruzelski, Volker Staack and Brad Goehle
The success of corporate R&D is on every C-suite agenda. Yet wide disparities persist in how well innovation investments actually pay off. As a consequence, R&D is often seen as a black box, where large sums of money go in and innovative products and services only sometimes come out. One of the aims of the Global Innovation 1000 study, our annual analysis of R&D spending, has been to demystify the process—and to find universal principles that can be applied by any company, in any industry.
This year, the 10th anniversary of the study, we looked back at a decade’s worth of research on R&D spending patterns and surveys of innovation executives, plus anecdotal insights about how companies have been improving their innovation performance. We also surveyed more than 500 innovation leaders in companies large and small, across every major region and industry sector, to ask what they have learned in the last 10 years about why some investments work and others do not. We found that it’s really not that mysterious: Over the years, we’ve identified the core strategies that can improve a company’s return on its R&D investment, and we’ve witnessed some consensus around the key success factors that drive results. For example, one of the main messages we heard is that innovation leaders feel they have made real progress in better leveraging their R&D investments, particularly by more tightly aligning their innovation and business strategies, and by gaining better insights into customers’ stated and unstated needs. And in fact, 44 percent of our 2014 survey respondents say that their companies are better innovators today than they were a decade ago, while another 32 percent say they are much better. Only 6 percent say they are doing worse.