Recent discoveries of exoplanets that are relatively close to our solar system are used to illustrate the importance of “visualization”—of future consumer lifestyles, work and recreation, and product and service preferences—for the process of innovation. Different aspects of the visualization concept are discussed, including distinctions between consumers and companies, the importance of widely shared images and competition, and a possible role for Zen philosophy. Particular attention is devoted to visualizations associated with digital innovations, such as smartphones, voice assistants and the internet of things. A key conclusion of the discussion below is that the concept of disruptive innovation should be expanded to include the idea of disruptive visualization. The latter phenomenon will probably become more prevalent in the future.
Alongside the annual Innovation Leaders analysis of large organizations’ performance, we also identify upcoming companies that are seen as potential future catalysts for change. While these are organizations that are yet to achieve global scale, they are already making significant impact. They are the companies that are inventing new technologies, applying new business models and creating value in new ways that may well have significant global influence in the years ahead. Some are new ventures; others have been around for a few years and are building momentum.