What drives innovation? If we look at the most innovative companies in the last decade, we see innovation happening in areas such as:
Finance: Square, Venmo, Zelle
Communications: Spotify, Tiktok, Instagram, Slack
Logistics: Uber, Lyft
What underlies all those companies: the mobile phone. While the mobile phone is not synonymous with innovative companies, those innovative companies I listed were able to capitalize on the capabilities of that device to vault themselves into leadership positions.
Mobile phones are not new on the whole, but the capabilities they provide in the last decade provided these companies with the means to innovate.
What else do all those companies have in common? With one of two exceptions, they all made life better for a large population of people. They made life more entertaining, they made it easier to work, to manage your money, to get in better shape, to cook well, to get around easier.
Companies that find ways to make life better for many people while taking advantage of new technologies will be successful companies. It seems obvious, but too often I see companies focused on the technology and not on making life better for people. You need both things to succeed. Obvious, not easy.
For more on this, see: The 16 most innovative new companies of 2010s.