Top 5 most innovative companies — and 4 attributes that set them apart

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The Boston Consulting Group has named its annual list of the "50 Most Innovative Companies." Here are the top five.

1. Apple

2. Google

3. Tesla Motors

4. Microsoft

5. Samsung

In its 10th annual global survey of the state of innovation, approximately 79 percent survey respondents across all industries ranked innovation as either their No. 1 priority or a top-three priority for their company, according to BCG. This is the highest percentage since BCG first administered the survey in 2005, when 66 percent said innovation was among their top three priorities.

There are four attributes that many executives say are critical to successful implementation of innovative ideas, according to BCG:

1. Speed

2. Lean research and development processes

3. Use of technology

4. Systematic exploration of adjacent markets

There is obvious interplay between these four factors. For instance, the percentage of respondents who cited the necessity of quickly adopting new technologies rose by 22 percent between 2014 and 2015, according to the survey. Lean R&D processes also impact speed, and more respondents this year said improving operating processes is critical to innovation.

No longer does technology live alone in the IT department. Today, technology is present in virtually all departments of healthcare, as well as other industries, and it is critical to enable innovation throughout the organization.

Finally, slow core business growth has pushed many organizations to expand into adjacent markets. In healthcare, we see hospitals and health systems invest more in the outpatient and post-acute care space, population health management and even retail clinics. To make the leap into adjacent markets, companies often leverage existing capabilities in lean R&D, speed and technology to drive innovation.

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