For the third consecutive year, Apple tops the list of most innovative companies.
Will There Be Buyers in the Gamification Game?
Gamification startups -- which develop interactive games for companies as a way to offer incentives to consumers and employees -- could be the next innovation target software companies seek to add to their social tools. Just last year, Salesforce bought Rypple, a social performance management company that employs gaming tools. IBM also has been working on its own gaming product called Innov8.
Bunchball founder, Rajat Paharia, told GigaOM last month that corporations are just now realizing that gamification can be an effective tool to get people to use their software.
"They're all making software, but whoever figures out how to get their software used regularly will win," Paharia told the website. "It's a problem of motivation."
Last year, the technology research firm Gartner predicted that by 2014, more than 70 percent of Global 2000 companies will have a gamification application.
"Most attempts at gamification currently miss the mark, but successful and sustainable gamification can convert customers into fans, turn work into fun, or make learning a joy," said Brian Burke, research vice president at Gartner. "The potential is enormous."
While some companies are trying their own in-house gamification efforts, many companies are turning to startups like Bunchball and Badgeville to implement gaming tools.
However, the time might be right for companies to acquire game developing startups -- with so many looking for new innovation and sitting on record amounts of cash.
"Growing innovation internally isn't necessarily the only way to get there," says Kash Rangan, an analyst at BofA Merrill Lynch Global Research. "A mature company with a lot of cash ought to buy innovation; that's part of a healthy cycle."
Rangan points out going outside the company to acquire new innovative tools can be a boon to early-stage investors. In 2004, EMC Corp. spent $625 million to buy a then little-known cloud computing start-up called VMware. Eight years later, EMC's stake is worth about $27 billion.