Balancing security, regulation, and massive amounts of data are daunting tasks for big banks and insurers. Despite those challenges, global names like Citigroup, Morgan Stanley Smith Barney, and Allstate have embraced everything from social networks for financial advisers to crowdsourcing tough decisions about just how to insure drivers.
Technology disrupts. No major industry in America is immune to the need to adapt to today's more "connected" world. The winners will be those companies that can harness evolving relationships between technology, customers, and suppliers. The losers will be those who only pay lip service to them.
We've profiled some of America's biggest companies—blue-chip stalwarts that include the best-known corporations on the planet—to highlight how "connectedness," or management of information and communication, has become a new standard for corporate success.
Our America's Most Connected Companies list highlights firms in which transformative innovation is being driven in unique ways by major technological trends such as big data, cloud computing, social technologies, and mobility solutions.
Beyond a Facebook page or a better Blackberry network, these giants are embracing a flood of data, more exacting analytics, and investments in raw processing power to deliver new and often surprising products and services; think Ford zapping a driver's heart rate into the cloud, or Pepsi reinventing the way it communicates with customers.
You won't see many "usual suspect" tech names on the list—such as a certain eponymous search behemoth. The companies featured here represent adoption and innovation of cutting-edge technologies by some of the world's most complex and long-lasting corporate institutions, where "connectedness" meets customers in ways that will make everything from banking to grocery shopping more efficient and responsive.
Below, we've highlighted sectors where connectedness is making a difference. More will follow in the coming weeks.
Selling coffee or cereal isn't usually associated with sweeping technological change, but Starbucks, General Mills, and Pepsi are testing a slew of new ways to talk to shoppers, using everything from innovative mobile strategies and social media to cloud-based online storefronts.
Using apps, cloud-based sites, and innovative mobile strategies, big retailers like Walmart, Lowe's, and Nordstrom are meeting customers wherever they are, and revolutionizing the experience of stepping into their stores.