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Ranked: The 50 Most Innovative Companies

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Ranked: the Top 50 Most Innovative Companies in 2020

Corporate longevity is on the decline. In the 1960s, a typical S&P 500 company was estimated to last more than 60 years—these days, the average lifespan is just 18 years.

In today’s fast-paced world, companies need to stay relevant in order to survive. Because of this, it’s become increasingly more important for businesses to prioritize innovation.

This chart looks at the top 50 most innovative companies in 2020, based on a survey by Boston Consulting Group (BCG). The companies have been ranked based on four variables:

  • Global “Mindshare”: The number of votes from all innovation executives.
  • Industry Peer Review: The number of votes from executives in a company’s industry.
  • Industry Disruption: A diversity index to measure votes across industries.
  • Value Creation: Total share return.

Breakdown of the Leaderboard

BCG has been ranking the most innovative companies since 2005. Here’s a look at the top 50 most innovative companies in 2020:

RankCompanyIndustryHQChange from 2019
1AppleTechnologyU.S.2
2AlphabetTechnologyU.S.-1
3AmazonConsumer GoodsU.S.-1
4MicrosoftTechnologyU.S.-
5SamsungTechnologySouth Korea-
6HuaweiTechnologyChina42
7AlibabaConsumer GoodsChina16
8IBMTechnologyU.S.-1
9SonyConsumer GoodsJapanreturn
10FacebookTechnologyU.S.-2
11TeslaTransportation & EnergyU.S.-2
12Cisco SystemsTechnologyU.S.5
13WalmartConsumer GoodsU.S.29
14TencentOtherChinareturn
15HP Inc.TechnologyU.S.29
16NikeConsumer GoodsU.S.return
17NetflixOtherU.S.-11
18LG ElectronicsConsumer GoodsSouth Korea-
19IntelTechnologyU.S.return
20DellTechnologyU.S.21
21SiemensOtherGermany-5
22TargetConsumer GoodsU.S.return
23PhilipsPharmaceuticals & MedtechNetherlands6
24XiaomiTechnologyChinareturn
25OracleTechnologyU.S.return
26Johnson & JohnsonPharmaceuticals & MedtechU.S.-12
27SAPTechnologyGermany1
28AdidasConsumer GoodsGermany-18
29HitachiTechnologyJapanreturn
30CostcoConsumer GoodsU.S.return
31JD.comConsumer GoodsChinanew
32VolkswagenTransportation & EnergyGermany6
33BoschTransportation & EnergyGermanynew
34AirbusTransportation & EnergyNetherlandsreturn
35SalesforceTechnologyU.S.-2
36JPMorgan ChaseOtherU.S.-16
37UberTechnologyU.S.return
38BayerPharmaceuticals & MedtechGermany-14
39Procter & GambleConsumer GoodsU.S.return
40Royal Dutch ShellTransportation & EnergyNetherlands-10
41ToyotaTransportation & EnergyJapan-4
42NestleConsumer GoodsSwitzerlandreturn
43ABBOtherSwitzerlandnew
443MOtherU.S.-5
45UnileverConsumer GoodsU.K.-13
46FCATransportation & EnergyU.K.new
47NovartisPharmaceuticals & MedtechSwitzerlandnew
48Coca-ColaConsumer GoodsU.S.return
49VolvoTransportation & EnergySwedennew
50McDonald’sConsumer GoodsU.S.-29

When you think about innovative companies, Walmart might not be top of mind. However, the retail giant has moved up to the 13th spot on the list, an increase of 29 places since 2019.

Walmart has put significant efforts into its e-commerce and omnichannel offerings. For instance, the company launched NextDay Delivery in 2020, and now offers one-day delivery to a majority of the U.S. population. The company also has a stake in the Chinese e-commerce platform JD.com, which has grown from 5% to 12%.

Costco makes it to 30th place this year, and the company is known for its effective use of data. Thanks to the company’s members-only model, it has been able to compile a ton of information on its customers. It uses this data not only for marketing purposes, but to help streamline processes like recall notices. Costco also uses data monitoring sensors in its warehouses to save money on water usage and to spot any potential leaks before they happen.

Another company worth touching on is Huawei—the Chinese tech company has taken the 6th spot, a 42 rank increase since 2019. This rise in the ranks is likely due to the company’s significant $19 billion investment in research and development (R&D) in 2019. These types of investments seem to be paying off, as Huawei sold more smartphones in 2019 than Apple.

Innovation Leaders Come in All Sizes

While people may picture startups when they think of innovation and adaptability, big firms aren’t lagging far behind when it comes to innovation output.

In this context, firms with new product sales above their industry median are considered “innovation leaders.” Although 52% of small firms are considered innovation leaders, 43% of large firms still find themselves in the same boat.

Small vs. big firms innovation leaders

In fact, because larger firms generally have more access to resources and manpower than smaller firms, they often have an advantage when it comes to research and development and the creation of innovation-focused programs.

Investing in innovation shows a far greater payoff down the line—firms that invested 1.4x more in innovation input saw 4x the amount of new products sales.

Innovation investment pays off

Innovation as a Lifestyle

Unless you’re in a startup that’s hoping to get acquired by a larger firm, innovation can’t be a one-hit-wonder. Yet, despite its importance, innovation over the long term is hard to maintain.

There have only been 8 companies that have appeared on the list every year. Here’s a look at the companies that have consistently made the cut since 2005:

These companies are serial innovators, and have managed to create innovation systems to perpetually foster creativity and agility. It’s an intentional, laborious process—but when done right, the payoff can be huge.

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Markets

Visualizing the Rise of Women on Boards of Directors Worldwide

The representation of women on boards of directors a mixed bag. This graphic looks at the 10-year trend of women on corporate boards.

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The Rise of Women on Boards of Directors Worldwide

Women’s representation in the boardroom is a mixed bag. The number of women on boards is rising across the globe—but the rate of increase has slowed for three of the past four years.

Based on MSCI research of All Country World Index (ACWI) constituent companies, the graphic above reveals a 10-year trend of women’s representation on corporate boards, and projects three future scenarios on the way to parity.

ESG Goals: The Path to Parity

The ESG ecosystem considers 30% representation to be a critical milestone on the road to reaching gender parity on corporate boards of directors.

Following a small uptick in 2019—and two years of slowed growth from 2017 to 2018—the rise of women on boards slowed again in 2020, gaining 0.6 percentage points (p.p.).

Based on different forward-looking scenarios, here’s how long it could take to reach equal representation:

 Progressive scenarioBusiness-as-usual scenarioDeceleration scenario
Years to reach 30%
Women on Boards (WoB)
6 years9 years16 years
Year we may reach >50% WoB203920452070

Source: MSCI ESG Research LLC as of Oct. 30, 2020.

On the whole, parity on corporate boards could be reached as early as 2039 or as late as 2070.

Women’s Representation: State of the Unions

MSCI research reveals trends that highlight significant traction. In 2020, fewer women became directors, but all-male boards continued to decline worldwide to 17% in 2020 (a 2 p.p. drop) among the ACWI contingent.

This trend is partially driven by emerging markets, where all-male boards dropped to 31%, from over 34% initially. Hong Kong is one of the few countries that actually experienced an increase of 5 p.p. in all-male boards. In contrast, Saudi Arabia’s share reduced by 8 p.p. to 86% in 2020.

Country% Companies with 3+ WoBCountry% Companies with no WoB
🇳🇴 Norway100%🇶🇦 Qatar100%
🇮🇹 Italy100%🇸🇦 Saudi Arabia86%
🇧🇪 Belgium100%🇦🇷 Argentina67%
🇵🇹 Portugal100%🇭🇺 Hungary67%
🇫🇷 France100%🇰🇷 South Korea65%
🇸🇪 Sweden91%🇦🇪 UAE63%
🇫🇮 Finland91%🇨🇱 Chile44%
🇪🇸 Spain90%🇲🇽 Mexico38%
🇬🇧 UK85%🇭🇰 Hong Kong37%
🇦🇹 Austria83%🇮🇩 Indonesia36%

Source: MSCI ESG Research LLC as of Oct. 30, 2020.

Europe continues to lead the world in gender representation on boards. All top 10 countries with three or more women directors are found in the region, with countries like Norway, Italy, and Belgium being the closest to reaching parity.

Across sectors, utilities experienced the largest increase in companies with three or more women on boards, with a 9% jump between 2019-2020.

The Other Glass Ceiling: The C-Suite

The number of women CEOs remains low across all regions, but CFO roles show more promise.

 MSCI World, 2017MSCI World, 2020MSCI EM, 2017MSCI EM, 2020
Women in CEO roles4.7%4.9%3.3%4.8%
Women in CFO roles9.4%12.1%9.8%18.7%

Source: MSCI ESG Research LLC as of Oct. 30, 2020.

This global rise is also largely thanks to emerging markets. Since 2017, emerging market companies have exhibited higher percentages of CFOs than companies in developed markets, and the difference is widening.

The Glass Ceiling Isn’t Unbreakable

As MSCI reports, the progress towards parity in boardrooms does not necessarily represent the workplace. Emerging research suggests that women have been more negatively impacted by the pandemic’s economic fallout—potentially undoing several years’ worth of improvements.

However, developing nations still show promising results in key indicators of gender diversity, with further opportunity to grow corporate bottom lines.

As more post-pandemic recovery data becomes available amidst vaccine rollouts, we’ll gain a better sense of whether we’re still on track to follow these long-term trends.

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Technology

Which Streaming Service Has the Most Subscriptions?

From Netflix and Disney+ to Spotify and Apple Music, we rank the streaming services with the most monthly paid subscriptions.

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Streaming Service Subscriptions 2020 - Share

Which Streaming Service Has The Most Subscriptions?

Many companies have launched a streaming service over the past few years, trying to capitalize on the digital media shift and launching the so-called “streaming wars.”

After Netflix grew from a small DVD-rental company to a household name, every media company from Disney to Apple saw recurring revenues ripe for the taking. Likewise, the audio industry has long-since accepted Spotify’s rise to prominence, as streaming has become the de facto method of consumption for many.

But it was actually the unexpected COVID-19 pandemic that solidified the foothold of digital streaming, with subscription services seeing massive growth over the last year. Although it was expected that many new services would flounder along the way, media subscription services saw wide scale growth and adoption almost across the board.

We’ve taken the video, audio, and news subscription services with 5+ million subscribers to see who came out on top—and who has grown the most quickly—over the past year. Data comes from the FIPP media association as well as individual company reports.

Streaming Service Giants: Netflix and Amazon

The top of the streaming giant pantheon highlights two staples of business: the first-mover advantage and the power of conglomeration.

With 200+ million global subscribers, Netflix has capitalized on its position as the first and primary name in digital video streaming. Though its consumer base in the Americas has begun to plateau, the company’s growth in reach (190+ countries) and content (70+ original movies slated for 2021) has put it more than 50 million subscribers ahead of its closest competition.

The story is the same in the audio market, where Spotify’s 144 million subscriber base is more than double that of Apple Music, the next closest competitor with 68 million subscribers.

Meanwhile, Amazon’s position as the second most popular video streaming service with 150 million subscribers might be surprising. However, Prime Video subscriptions are included with membership to Amazon Prime, which saw massive growth in usage during the pandemic.

ServiceTypeSubscribers (Q4 2020)
NetflixVideo203.7M
Amazon Prime VideoVideo150.0M
SpotifyAudio144.0M
Tencent VideoVideo120.0M
iQIYIVideo119.0M
Disney+Video94.9M
YoukuVideo90.0M
Apple MusicAudio68.0M
Amazon Prime MusicAudio55.0M
Tencent Music (Group)Audio51.7M
ViuVideo41.4M
Alt BalajiVideo40M
HuluVideo38.8M
Eros NowVideo36.2M
Sirius XmAudio34.4M
YouTube PremiumVideo/Audio30M
Disney+ HotstarVideo18.5M
Paramount+Video17.9M
HBO MaxVideo17.2M
Starz/StarzPlay/PantayaVideo13.7M
ESPN+Video11.5M
Apple TV+Video10M
DAZNVideo8M
DeezerAudio7M
PandoraAudio6.3M
New York TimesNews6.1M

Another standout is the number of large streaming services based in Asia. China-based Tencent Video (also known as WeTV) and Baidu’s iQIYI streaming services both crossed 100 million paid subscribers, with Alibaba’s Youku not far behind with 90 million.

Disney Leads in Streaming Growth

But perhaps most notable of all is Disney’s rapid ascension to the upper echelons of streaming service giants.

Despite Disney+ launching in late 2019 with a somewhat lackluster content library (only one original series with one episode at launch), it has quickly rocketed both in terms of content and its subscriber base. With almost 95 million subscribers, it has amassed more subscribers in just over one year than Disney expected it could reach by 2024.

ServiceTypePercentage Growth (2019)
Disney+VideoNew
Apple TV+VideoNew
Disney+ HotstarVideo516.7%
ESPN+Video475.0%
Starz/StarzPlay/PantayaVideo211.4%
Paramount+Video123.8%
HBO MaxVideo115.0%
Amazon Prime VideoVideo100.0%
Alt BalajiVideo100.0%
YouTube PremiumVideo/Audio100.0%
DAZNVideo100.0%
Eros NowVideo92.6%
Amazon Prime MusicAudio71.9%
Tencent Music (Group)Audio66.8%
New York TimesNews60.5%
SpotifyAudio44.0%
HuluVideo38.6%
ViuVideo38.0%
NetflixVideo34.4%
Tencent VideoVideo27.7%
iQiyiVideo19.0%
Sirius XmAudio17.4%
Apple MusicAudio13.3%
YoukuVideo9.6%
PandoraAudio1.6%
DeezerAudio0%

The Disney+ wave also spurred growth in partner streaming services like Hotstar and ESPN+, while other services with smaller subscriber bases saw large growth rates thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The lingering question is how the landscape will look when the pandemic starts to wind down, and when all the new players are accounted for. NBCUniversal’s Peacock, for example, has reached over 30 million subscribers as of January 2021, but the company hasn’t yet disclosed how many are paid subscribers.

Likewise, competitors are investing in content libraries to try and make up ground on Netflix and Disney. HBO Max is slated to start launching internationally in June 2021, and ViacomCBS rebranded and expanded CBS All Access into Paramount+.

And international growth is vital. Three of the top six video streaming services by subscribers are based in China, while Indian services Hotstar, ALTBalaji, and Eros Now all saw surges in subscriber bases, with more room left to grow.

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