In 1939, Austrian economist Joseph Schumpeter offered a new twist on innovation, defining invention as an expression of intellectual creativity undertaken without considering its possible economic impact. But it was the Dotcom boom of the 1990s and Apple’s spectacular ascent in the 2000s that really sparked innovation interest:

  • Changing mindset – A 2004 McKinsey & Company I&TM survey shows just how much the “C” suite pivoted on the question of wanting to be a “category innovation leader.” In 1993, 37% of executives surveyed reported wanting to become an innovation leader, while 26% were content to remain a “follower.” In 1995, 69% wanted to be a category innovation leader. The last survey year, 1999, was the peak of dotcom mania, which saw dizzying valuations ascribed to technology innovators. By then, no one wanted to be a follower, and 95% wanted to lead the innovation pack.
  • Innovation surgeThe Wall Street Journal conducted a search of SEC reports and found that the use of some form of the word “innovation” occurred 33,528 times in 2011, up 64% from five years earlier, the year preceding the iPhone’s launch.
  • Chief innovation officers – In August 2010, The New York Times reported that a search of LinkedIn resulted in more than 700 people who listed their current job title as “Chief Innovation Officer.” Today, there are more than 7,100 people on LinkedIn with Chief Innovation Officer in their title, a tenfold increase in just 10 years.

Apple personifies one of Co-founder Steve Jobs’ tenets: “Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower.” At a valuation of $2 trillion-plus, it’s clear what innovation can contribute to the bottom line.