This post was written by Keith Dawson for UBM Tech’s community Web site All LED Lighting, sponsored by Philips Lumileds. It is archived here because the All LED Lighting site has gone dark. This material is Copyright 2013-2015 by UBM Americas.


Philips a Fast Company 'Innovative Company'

In this season of B2B and technology media list making, we track the SSL companies that receive the accolades, so you don't have to.

It seems like only yesterday when we were reporting that Cree had been named to the MIT Technology Review list of 50 most innovative companies. (Actually, it was a week ago.) Cree was the only pure-play SSL company on that list. Others involved in SSL appear there, but they were cited for reasons other than their work that touches on lighting.

8 Innovation Lessons From Philips (according to Fast Company)
  1. "At the start, it is very difficult to predict whether a breakthrough can evolve into something that will actually change the world."
  2. A radical new product "must do something either better, or cheaper, than the existing product it is trying to displace."
  3. "A radical new product will need to infiltrate markets at the margins before it can claim the center."
  4. "Government policy and funding often help push a breakthrough innovation into the market."
  5. "As costs plummet and quality improves, a new technology can suddenly achieve an accelerating, global popularity."
  6. "The reasons behind the initial appeal of an innovation don't predict the range of problems it will someday solve."
  7. "Older digital technologies--the Internet, for instance, or smartphones--accentuate the impact of newer digital technologies, such as the LED."
  8. "Disruptive innovations don't just disrupt markets or change the way people live; they disrupt old business models, too."

Now Fast Company's list of "the world's 50 most innovative companies" is out. Philips made the cut at No. 50, while Cree is absent. (A subsidiary of Philips sponsors this site.)

Both lists are about innovation, but their emphases differ. Technology Review looked for companies that had produced industry-changing products. Fast Company is more intent on identifying companies that have woven the practice of innovation deep into their DNA, regardless of whether earth-shaking products have resulted yet.

Well chosen
On this score, Philips is well chosen. Fast Company's profile is extensive and does an excellent job of filling out the picture of what the company has accomplished and learned on the way to "altering the future." The profile goes into detail to pull out eight lessons in innovation that the company has taken on board (see sidebar). Like every story of disruptive new technology, the LED story is a contingent one. It could have been otherwise. Please do read all 4,500 words of Jon Gertner's Fast Company profile of Philips. It is good journalism.

A number of companies appear on both lists -- but none in the business of lighting. The usual suspects include Google, Tesla, Dropbox, Amazon, Box, and GitHub. GE is on both lists, but not for SSL. The Fast Company list cites the company for combining big-data analytics with streams of data coming from its products -- engines, power plants, hospital equipment. Both lists agree that Google is at or near the top of the innovation heap.

Yet another list
Forbes has come out with its list of 100 of "America's most promising companies." One SSL endeavor is cited: Noribachi, a California company manufacturing high-output lighting systems for commercial and industrial uses, all made in the US.

The Forbes list's emphasis is not on innovation so much as on future earnings potential. These are companies to watch across all areas of the economy.

— Keith Dawson Circle me on Google+ Follow me on Twitter Visit my LinkedIn page, Editor-in-Chief, All LED Lighting

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