25TH APRIL, 2019

Tax Cloud's Most Innovative Companies 2019

The buzzword for the year’s most innovative companies is AI. From start-ups to the world’s richest companies, Artificial Intelligence is changing the landscape of business. Some of the cleverest companies are looking at technology and its rapidly increasing uses and making every stage of every search, transaction and sentence easier to complete. Furthermore, long-term plans are behind some of the year’s biggest innovations, taking good ideas and honing them until they’re perfect. We’ve taken some of 2019’s biggest innovators in various sectors and found out how they do it.

The Up and Comer – Stitch Fix

Stitch Fix provides a subscription service for clothes that will fit and are curated to your style. Mixing real-life curation and algorithms, Stitch Fix aims to thoroughly delight with minimal input from the user. Its Style Shuffle function, allowing customers to rate a variety of clothes each day to build the algorithm, has been used by 75% of the 2.9 million users. Using AI to its fullest potential, from deciding what gets delivered to telling stockists when they’re running low, Stitch Fix also creates a direct line for feedback to designers, improving the process from the design level. The company has taken the pain out of shopping and blossomed into a billion-dollar company, having only gone public in 2017, using innovative algorithms to make life easier for millions.

Best in Retail – Amazon

Coming from an online bookstore to a household name and a major player in many sectors, Amazon has a lot to brag about. Prime, drones, one-click, Alexa, Kindles and behind the scenes moves like their cloud services have proven Amazon as the King of fingers-in-pies. Their continuous evolution has allowed them to stay at the top of so many fields. Amazon has incentivised using their platform by including as many of their site-specific perks into Prime, leading to Prime users spending four times as much as non-users. Now, with the creation of smart products, like their assistant Alexa or Fire TV, Amazon is no longer known for e-commerce but has successfully made the jump to tangible products. The secret to this is finding a product people already have and making it better. As Amazon steps into the realm of brick-and-mortar with Amazon Go, a convenience store without check-outs, it certainly feels like we are living in Bezos’ Amazon forest.

Best in Media/Entertainment - Netflix

Disruptive innovation is at the heart of Netflix’s business model, wherein one offers a similar service to a rival’s, but which is cheaper and more convenient, even if lacking in some areas of the precedent’s service. Starting with beating out Blockbuster through their mail order service (less costly, more convenient but without instant gratification), then moving on to disrupting themselves by providing a streaming service, which doesn’t offer the newest movies but is simpler and cheaper. They have also begun trusting machines over man, choosing algorithms over reviews in order to better market their services. The presentation picture of each show is geared to the user, showing a comedic actor over the lead if the user is shown to prefer comedies. Netflix changed the way we watch TV, creating choose-your-own-path films, making adverts seem tedious and a constant flow of new content normal.

Best in Automotive - Tesla

It’s no surprise to see Tesla on this list. Beating out BMW, Tesla has proven itself to be a force to be reckoned with. The wonder-company has managed to make electric cars fast, safe and sexy, with all the mod-cons expected of a modern car. At the core of this is the belief in bettering a product. Elon Musk has amassed a cult following, as he relentlessly pursues his every goal and founding other companies in cutting-edge industries, like SpaceX and OpenAI. By starting with elite, expensive vehicles and moving down the market, like with the Model 3, Tesla has built a reputation for quality – Tesla’s are built for only the tires and wipers to be replaced and their operating systems can be updated as the technology improves. Tesla has also leapt with the best into the world of AI, beginning development on autonomous vehicles in step with many other automotive companies, which will later be able to be downloaded onto older models.  

Best in Tech – Apple

Apple is ubiquitous nowadays, driving innovation in the tech industry. iPhones, iPads, Macs, AirPods, Apple Watches and Home Pods are all stylish and full of good ideas. The key is to create an innovation-friendly eco-system. Every product works with all the others, with its own App Store, which allows the products to download applications which improve the products further. Apple designs its own chips, optimised for its own system. It has also dived into AI, preferring to analyse device to device than in the cloud for privacy reasons, turning a smartphone into a supercomputer in your pocket. Furthermore, Apple is working behind the scenes on many health-based AI projects, like One Drop (to monitor diabetes) or Glow (for reproductive health). CEO Tim Cook doesn’t believe in testing products on the market, preferring to release fully tested and perfectly designed tech.

Final Thoughts

Innovation really comes from a mindset. All these companies have taken an idea – to improve – and pursued it until success. Failures along the way (looking at Amazon MP3) are launch pads for greater successes. Building a culture of innovation and embracing changes in technology and even in the entire direction of a project can lead to great benefits, with the right business acumen and thorough planning.
Barrie Dowsett, ACMA, GCMA
Author Barrie Dowsett, ACMA, GCMA CEO, Tax Cloud
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