Tech looks without to grow within

Technology is a Top Growing Sector, rising 8.3 percent from last year to USD $623,190 million. It is the most valuable sector in the report, and the second most dominant, with 14 total brands, four of them in the Top 10: Apple (#1), Google (#2), Microsoft (#4), and Samsung (#7). It also features some of the Top Growing Brands in 2016, with Facebook (+48%) followed by Adobe (+21%), Huawei (+18%), Samsung (+14%), SAP (+13%), and Google (+11%).

This year’s Best Global Brands report recognizes 14 technology brands that have redefined and shaped the way we work, live, and continue to grow. But growth is about more than numbers for tech companies. As internal product innovation slows down for some, we’ve seen a large shift in the landscape, with brands developing a reliance on developer communities, active followers, and influential acquisitions in order to grow their offerings. Technology brands are expanding further into people’s lives—and deepening their roots.

Cultivating creative communities

People are the creative fuel that drives growth. With their vast purview of people’s lives, technology brands have unique access to resources outside of their organizations. Apple, this year’s number one Best Global Brand, envisions a world in which beginner programmers and children are empowered to learn and write real code. Craig Federighi, Apple’s  Senior Vice President of Software Engineering, believes that the brand’s new coding app, Swift Playgrounds, “is an innovative way to bring real coding concepts to life and empower the next generation with the skills they need to express their creativity.” Apple took the iPad, a piece of hardware, and has revolutionized the way children intuitively interact and learn, while getting them started early on being the engineers of tomorrow. During the keynote introduction to the 2016 Apple Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC), Apple celebrated its investment in the next generation of developers, announcing that it’s issued 300-plus scholarships and that more than100 of the conference attendees were under the age of 18—the youngest being just nine years old.

Microsoft is also looking at talent from outside of the organization by inviting people to be part of its Internet of Things (IoT) movement. Users can install the latest Windows 10 operating system on credit card–sized, single-board computers like the Raspberry Pi, using the Universal Windows Platform (UWP) to build great solutions. Microsoft has stepped into the open source community in the last couple of years by rolling out major applications like Visual Studio Code and operating systems for communal development. In doing so, it’s challenging the traditional idea of having to rely on in-house teams to build your brand and products. While the idea of open source isn’t exactly new, top global brands are now recognizing that there is power in enabling communities of people with an innate passion for creating to start developing the next generation of applications and tools. This has become more vital and valuable in fast-tracking the next iteration of ideas and going to market with truly innovative products.

Powerful data partnerships

We see companies on the Best Global Brands list paying attention to newly booming sectors, niche startups, and emerging markets and making strategic acquisitions. The through-line behind new opportunities in all sectors is data—and connectivity is key to accumulating those valuable human insights. IoT is a primary focus for companies, both inside and outside the tech industry.

One of the largest recent mergers and acquisitions in the IoT market was Cisco’s purchase of IoT management platform, Jasper Technologies. Jasper Technologies helps companies grow rapidly and cost-effectively launch, manage, and monetize IoT services on a global scale. Cisco’s acquisition of Jasper Technologies demonstrates the leading technology brand’s commitment to push innovation in the IoT space, solidifying Cisco as the top IoT platform provider for enterprise clients. While Cisco is the de facto leader in enterprise networking solutions, Jasper, being a SaaS-based solution, has no overlap with current Cisco products. So this is a strategic move for the company—looking outside to grow its offerings.

One important factor in many mergers and acquisitions is the inheritance of data associated with the product or company acquired. Jasper’s capabilities include, but are not limited to, connecting and securing millions of devices, as well as the ability to collect and analyze data. This data is used to accelerate product growth, in order help people grow in turn. Every moment of our lives, we’re connected to a device or application that analyzes behavioral, locational, and health data. This data can improve our lives by providing feedback to brands on what works and what needs improvement, determining the next product innovation and resulting in more rewarding experiences. The best technology brands in the Best Global Brands report are no strangers to this iterative formula.

Powering personal evolution

Apple, Google, Intel, HP, and Samsung are the leaders in building ecosystems that connect their devices, operating systems, and products and are designed to enhance people’s lives. The ability to always be connected via any device—anywhere in the world, at any given moment—allows brands to connect the dots and anticipate how to help you grow. The significance of the relationship here is that brands and people are now coexisting and collaborating to help each other grow: the reliance on understanding how to gather, learn, and analyze is symbiotic. These products can help people work, live, and operate better, while people’s use of them helps companies gather the data they need to improve their products.

The technology brands on this year’s Best Global Brands Report have embraced communities and have encouraged people to learn and grow, at the same time looking outside of their brands for sustainable sources of growth. The value of having an external community strengthen and even innovate for the product suite becomes increasingly significant as hardware and data become more accessible around the world. The idea that tech leaders are now investing in people—as early as when children can cognitively start interacting with mobile applications—to educate and cultivate talent, signals to the marketplace that companies are no longer afraid of keeping ideas close to the vest. Tech brands are not just connecting with, but investing in people, creating a more even playing field and empowering users themselves to push the envelope of innovation, while continuing to grow with the brands they love and trust.

Associate Technology Director