The world's most innovative companies have two things in common: they are at the top of their game when it comes to technology, and they are highly flexible. Here is our pick of companies to learn from:
It is the dream of any business to have customers queuing to buy its products, and somehow or other California-based Apple manages to achieve this year in year out. Last month, shoppers across the world camped out overnight to get their hands on the latest iPhone, despite it being the most expensive model to date. The device sold out within half an hour of going on sale. Apple has perfected innovation to such an extent that every time it makes a few small tweaks to its flagship product shoppers rush out and buy it, even though the phone they already have works perfectly well.
While Apple's innovation strategy is based on getting customers to keep buying the same product year after year, Tesla is trying to revolutionise the world. The US firm wants to bring electric vehicles into the mainstream and end the world's addiction to heavily polluting diesel and petrol cars. Tesla has been working to improve battery life and make it easier for owners to charge their electric vehicles at home using solar panels. It has not been plain sailing for Tesla as a business, but then again what the company is aiming to do is no mean feat either.
Seattle-based Amazon has been around for 24 years, starting out as an online bookstore in 1994. It struggled to turn a profit, but managed to survive the dot.com bubble bursting at the start of the century. In the past few years, the company has come into its own as e-commerce has taken off in a big way. Amazon was fortunate to find itself with all the infrastructure in place needed to meet the surge in online shopping, and the growth it has enjoyed since has been phenomenal. The number of Amazon employees worldwide increased from 30,000 in 2011 to 566,000 at the end of 2017. Aside from books, Amazon today sells all manner of consumer goods, from electrics through to groceries and beauty products.
Much like Amazon, Netflix was in the right place at the right time. The US Company launched in 1997 as a postal-driven DVD rental service, but has become a household name across the world in the last few years. The company has been able to exploit the growing trend for on-demand entertainment fuelled by broadband internet and mobile technology, while traditional television channels have fallen out of favour. Netflix earned more than $11bn in revenue in 2017 mostly from its subscription services, and is now proving successful as a content creator.
San Francisco-headquartered Salesforce is a cloud-based customer relationship management (CRM) software provider. It offers a suite of applications for small, medium and large organisations, with a focus on sales and support. Salesforce has made growth and market share top priorities, ahead of profits. In less than 20 years in existence, the company has undertaken dozens of acquisitions to dominate the CRM market and acquire new technology.
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