Rebooting Innovation for a Sustainable and AI-Driven Future

In today’s fast-paced world, innovation has never been more critical—or more challenging. Companies globally are prioritizing innovation like never before, yet many are struggling to deliver on their aspirations. The 2024 report from the Boston Consulting Group (BCG) reveals a paradox: while 83% of companies rank innovation among their top three priorities, only 3% are actually ready to innovate effectively. This disconnect highlights the urgent need for a reboot in innovation systems, particularly with a focus on AI and sustainability.


Innovation Prioritization vs. Readiness

Despite high prioritization, companies are finding it difficult to transform their innovative ideas into tangible value. BCG’s proprietary innovation maturity score shows a steep decline in readiness, with only a small fraction of companies prepared to capitalize on their innovative potential. This readiness gap is attributed to unclear or overly broad strategies, with more than half of surveyed leaders identifying this as a significant challenge.


The Strategic Imperative

To close this gap, companies need to strengthen the link between their business and innovation strategies. Successful innovation isn’t just about having great ideas; it’s about aligning these ideas with strategic goals and value creation. Organizations like Novo Nordisk, Eli Lilly, Aptiv, and Nvidia serve as exemplary models. These companies have demonstrated how a clear, focused strategy can drive innovation success.

– Novo Nordisk and Eli Lilly have leveraged their long-term commitment to diabetes research to lead the market in anti-obesity medications. Their strategic persistence has paid off, transforming both their market position and patient outcomes.
– Aptiv has embraced a rigorous, strategy-led approach to manage its innovation portfolio, focusing on the future of software-defined vehicles.
– Nvidia pivoted from computer graphics to AI chips, demonstrating strategic flexibility and commitment to long-term goals.


Embracing GenAI and Sustainability

Generative AI (GenAI) is identified as a transformative force in innovation. According to BCG, 65% of executives view GenAI as the most disruptive technology in the next five years. Companies proficient in predictive AI are moving faster in adopting GenAI, which can significantly enhance innovation processes from strategy to commercialization.

How GenAI Can Revolutionize Innovation:

1. Strategize:
– GenAI helps test strategic assumptions and identify emerging innovation domains by analyzing vast amounts of data and providing unbiased insights.
– Companies like Nestlé use GenAI to enhance trend analysis capabilities by spotting patterns in online and social media data.

2. Create:
– GenAI supports ideation by generating a plethora of product and service ideas. Mattel, for instance, has used GenAI to increase its concept designs for Hot Wheels.
– It aids in refining product designs and specifications, accelerating the prototyping phase.

3. Scale:
– GenAI optimizes customer engagement through hyper-personalized dynamic journeys, as seen with L’Oréal’s Beauty Genius, which offers tailored beauty advice.
– It streamlines e-commerce by generating efficient marketing content and supporting sales reps with data-driven insights.



Integrating AI for Sustainable Practices: The Baker Hughes Example

Baker Hughes provides an excellent case study on how AI can be leveraged for sustainability. Marie Merle Caekebeke, Sustainability Executive at Baker Hughes, spearheaded an initiative to use AI and large language models (LLMs) to enhance their ESG (Environmental, Social, and Governance) materiality assessments. This initiative not only streamlined their processes but also significantly reduced the time required for assessments from two years to a matter of weeks.

– Project Details: Baker Hughes utilized C3 AI to parse through 3,500 stakeholder documents, training LLMs to identify and label ESG-related content efficiently. This approach saved the company 30,000 hours, allowing the sustainability team to focus on strategic decisions rather than manual data processing.
– Strategic Impact: By leveraging AI, Baker Hughes can proactively engage with stakeholders, keep up with emerging trends, and adapt their sustainability strategies dynamically. This AI-driven approach also helps in minimizing unconscious biases, ensuring a more accurate and comprehensive assessment of ESG factors.

The Sustainability Angle

Innovation and sustainability are increasingly intertwined. Companies are recognizing the need to innovate not just for growth, but for sustainability. Sustainable innovation involves creating products and services that contribute to environmental and social well-being, aligning with global sustainability goals.

Key Sustainable Innovation Practices:

– Energy Efficiency: Innovating in product design and manufacturing processes to reduce energy consumption.
– Circular Economy: Developing products with lifecycle considerations, promoting reuse, recycling, and reducing waste.
– Sustainable Sourcing: Ensuring that raw materials are sourced sustainably, benefiting both the environment and local communities.

Companies leading in sustainable innovation, such as Tata Group, prioritize investment in sustainable domains like electric vehicles (EVs) and 5G, aligning their innovation strategy with broader sustainability goals.


In an era marked by rapid technological advancements and increasing environmental concerns, companies must reboot their innovation systems. By aligning innovation strategies with business objectives, leveraging GenAI, and committing to sustainability, organizations can not only bridge the readiness gap but also drive significant value creation and competitive advantage.

Innovation systems need to be more strategic, effective, and sustainable. As businesses navigate this complex landscape, the integration of AI and sustainability into their innovation processes will be crucial for long-term success.


– Boston Consulting Group. (2024). “Innovation Systems Need a Reboot.”
– BCG’s AI Radar and Global Innovation Survey 2024.
– Dignan, L. (2023). “How Baker Hughes used AI, LLMs for ESG materiality assessments.” Constellation Research Inc.

By embracing these strategies, companies can ensure they are not just ready for the future but are leading the way in sustainable and AI-driven innovation.


About Digoshen

This blog post was originally shared at the blog of Digoshen,  and the blog of the Digoshen founder

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