To develop our Accenture Innovation Maturity Index groups, we conducted a comprehensive literature review and combined it with our real-world research.

We wanted to look in particular at companies that have outgrown their peers in the last five years and are expected to continue doing so over the next five years — that’s growth in terms of revenue and profitability.

Innovation doesn’t happen by accident. Companies that are leading the pack now — and those projected to be leading in five years — are investing aggressively in innovation. They take a focused and decisive approach to innovation: it’s change-oriented, outcome-led and disruption-minded.

This three-pronged approach is underpinned by seven innovation practices that any company can follow.

That’s all very well. But what are front-runners actually doing concretely that continues to allow them to unlock trapped revenue and profit growth – what we call ‘trapped value’.

Here are the seven practices of innovation that leaders employ:

1. They are data-driven. They generate, share and deploy data to deliver new product and service innovations safely and securely.

2. They are hyper-relevant. They know how to be—and stay—relevant by sensing and addressing customers’ changing needs. My colleague Neil Lister has written extensively on how companies do this successfully.

3. They are talent rich. In this world of technology, leaders continue to create new, modern forms of workforces that are flexible, augmented and adaptive. They realise the way they approach talent will help them gain a competitive advantage in fast-changing markets.

4. They are asset smart. They adopt intelligent asset and operations management to run businesses as efficiently as possible, and to free up the capacity for other innovative efforts. Leaders manage the paradox of focusing on operational efficiency as well as creating new offerings which will pay dividends in the medium and long-term.

5. They are inclusive. Leaders adopt an inclusive approach to innovation and governance that incorporates a broader range of stakeholders than just shareholders or customers. Again, my colleague Neil Lister has written extensively on this subject.

6. They are powered by a carefully managed ecosystem of partners to bring the best innovations to their customers.

7. And they are indeed technology-propelled. Part of what sets leaders apart from the rest of the pack is that they master leading-edge technologies that enable business innovation.

In South Africa, and globally, the gap between companies on the winning side of innovation and those being disrupted by it is growing.

The winners are innovating—using digital technologies to unlock value in their current businesses, seize new market opportunities, scale up innovation and grow their current and future businesses. As these innovators release more value, industry disruption mounts for those unable to release trapped value.

To find out more about Accenture’s innovation maturity index, you can download the full report here.