The American Innovation Index



“It is heartening and extraordinary that innovation is not the province of a particular industry and proves that innovation that enriches the lives of individuals, and that seeks to make the world a better place is possible for all firms,” according to Fordham Professor Lerzan Aksoy, emcee of the 2nd annual American Innovation Conference. The conference featured speakers representing America’s most innovative companies, including Aflac, IKEA, John Deere, Stanley Black & Decker and Toyota, and gave awards to a roster of innovation winners that also included Amazon, Chick-fil-A, Ford, and Trader Joes.

The conference took place October 3rd in New York City, and was hosted by the Gabelli School of Business, Fordham University, in partnership with Illuminas and the Norwegian School of Economics. The conference focused on what it means from a customer point of view to be “innovative” in delivering products and services, and “socially innovative” in benefiting society and the environment.

Attendees heard from Tor Andreassen, Professor of Innovation, Director of Center for Service Innovation, Norwegian School of Economics, who spoke on the topic “When Quality is Not Enough.”  He talked about a tech-driven world shaken up by disruptors and drove home the lesson that financially sustainable companies use innovation to stimulate active and positive emotions in customer relationships.

From left to right: Tor Andreassen, Norwegian School of Economics | Tracy Flanagan, Trader Joes | Ylana Ebba, Trader Joes | Maria Møllerskov Jonzo, IKEA | Mark Maybury, Stanley Black & Decker | Buffy Swinehart, Aflac | Lerzan Aksoy, Fordham University | Darcy Brito, Aflac | Dennis Williams, Chick-fil-A | Brian Kiser, Toyota | Charles Colby, Illuminas | Mark Moran, John Deere | Tim Keiningham, Illuminas

“You need to innovate to survive. Nations cannot innovate. Firms, people and institutions can.” – Tor Andreassen, NHH

Later in the conference, companies rated highly on the 2019 American Innovation Index™ were celebrated, and speakers from these organizations spoke about how they approach and view innovation.

Maria Møllerskov Jonzo, a customer experience and insights leader at IKEA spoke about her company’s commitment to its customers as the driver of its innovation practices.  In part, customer feedback of its products and service using tools like design thinking spark ideas to innovate, such as city center locations near customers.

Two iconic brands, John Deere and Stanley Black & Decker, are viewed as both innovative and socially innovative by their customers. These companies cited a commitment to continuous innovation with a social purpose as a central theme in their organizations that drives their success. While Stanley Black & Decker is well known for brands like Craftsman tools, it is on the forefront of innovation in creating products like electronic tags that identify newborns and their mothers to ensure they don’t become separated. Mark Maybury, CTO at Stanley Black & Decker, says the secret to innovation is to observe carefully, listen deeply, think outside the box, and experiment with purpose.

Charles Colby, Strategic Advisor and Methodologist of Illuminas, talked about the methodology behind the American Innovation Index. According to Charles, “Innovation only matters if it is noticed by your most important stakeholders, customers.  That’s what this project is about, quantifying what customers  notice when they do business with your brand.”

The conference was attended by 250 people interested in innovation, including business executives, students, faculty and NGOs.

Join us on October 22, 2020 for the 3rd annual American Innovation Conference keynoted by Jerry White who shares in the 1997 Nobel Prize for Peace awarded to the International Campaign to Ban Landmines.

About the American Innovation Index™ and Social Innovation Index™

The American Innovation Awards are based on the American Innovation Index™ that rated and ranked 174 U.S. companies based on perceptions of their customers in a national survey of over 8,000 consumers. The survey is administered by Illuminas, a market research firm specializing in services, technology and innovation, and is co-sponsored by Fordham’s Gabelli School of Business and Norwegian School of Economics.