The Most Innovative Companies of 2021
Innovation is the lifeblood of every company. Stagnant technology—and ideas—lead to irrelevance, which is why some of the world’s biggest corporations invest billions of dollars each year in internal innovation hubs in hopes of keeping ahead of the competition. Perhaps the best example of a company that remains at the top of its game is Apple, which has reigned as the most innovative company for years.
According to Boston Consulting Group’s "Overcoming the Innovation Readiness Gap" report, the top 10 innovative companies of 2021 is dominated by tech companies, with Apple and Google leading the way. The only non-tech companies on the list are Tesla and Pfizer.
Here are the top 10 innovative companies of 2021:
The top 10 innovative companies have changed over the years, with many falling out of the top 10 after failing to stay ahead of the curve. In 2005, 3M, General Electric, and Nokia were among the most innovative companies in the world, but by 2021, all three have dropped out of the top 10. The same can be said for automobile trailblazers Toyota, Ford, and BMW in 2013, as all are now missing from the top 10. Instead, Tesla is the sole automotive corporation among the ranks of Apple, Alphabet, and more.
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Innovation as a whole is on the rise, at least on the list of priorities of the world’s biggest companies. According to BCG, 75 percent of the 1,500 companies surveyed reported innovation as among their top three priorities, which is up 10 percent from 2020 and marks the largest year-on-year increase in BCG’s 15 years of research. Over 60 percent are also planning to boost spending on innovation alone. This is no doubt a product of the pandemic, which has caused millions of companies to adapt or become extinct.
Despite the increase in prioritization, BCG still finds the capabilities of these companies, which include the likes of Samsung and Sony, as lacking. Only 20 percent of surveyed companies surpassed BCG’s innovation-to-impact benchmark, which judges companies based on not just their willingness to innovate, but also their capability to do so efficiently and effectively.
A few standout examples of companies that innovated effectively are Pfizer (10) and Moderna (35), which both cut the time needed to make a COVID-19 vaccine from 10 years to one. Amazon is another stellar example as it was quick to adapt to safer online shopping and faster home delivery.
Aside from investing in innovation and willingness to innovate, BCG has determined that there are five important factors in innovation readiness: clear ambition, innovation domains, performance management, project management, and talent and culture. There’s also the matter of leadership, as BCG found that 90 percent of companies that outperformed on innovation benchmarks demonstrated clear and strong C-suite ownership of the innovation agenda. In short, CEO leadership is crucial to innovation, but it still takes a village to make it work.