Apr 15, 2021

BCG announces top 50 most innovative companies of 2021

Sam Steers
4 min
Courtesy of Getty Images
Boston Consulting Group (BCG) has announced its top 50 most innovative companies of 2021 in a report that includes the likes of Apple and Microsoft...

Boston Consulting Group (BGC) announced today the top 50 most innovative companies in 2021 which includes Apple, Microsoft and Samsung.

The American management consulting firm released the list as part of a yearly report with the latest edition named Overcoming the Innovation Readiness Gap being published earlier this month.

The report which also contains other sections such as 'The CEO Innovation Agenda' found that, out of the 50 companies surveyed, Apple took the top spot.

Based in California, the tech giant is most well known for its iPhone series but its latest innovations include a sleep tracking feature for Apple Watch arriving in the Autumn, and HomeKit-enabled video cameras for Apple TV, allowing users to receive doorbell notifications showing a live feed of their front door.

Second place was awarded to the American holding company Alphabet, whilst Amazon, Microsoft and Tesla were ranked in third, fourth and fifth place.

BCG's report assessed each of the companies against specific criteria including 'Leadership', 'Teaming' or teamwork, and the 'Innovation Readiness Gap.'


Results from BCG's analysis under the Leadership criteria showed that "90 per cent of companies that outperform on innovation outcomes have clear C-Suite ownership of the innovation agenda, whilst 20 per cent of that 90 per cent were found to be "innovation underperformers" with C-Suite ownership.

BCG says that leadership is about " leading innovators driving results from a clear CEO agenda. Unambiguous C-level ownership distinguishes top performers from underperformers as measured by share of sales from new products and services."

The results are displayed in the pie chart below.


Image: Boston Consulting Group.


Another criteria the companies were assessed against was 'Teaming' or teamwork. BCG states: " It’s impossible to achieve innovation readiness without a strong link—indeed, a virtuous cycle of collaboration - between product development and facing functions.

"Establishing this cycle and keeping it active are perennial challenges. In fact, this year the global innovation executives we surveyed cited it as the top obstacle to achieving higher returns on innovation investment."

The results for this criteria showed that 31 per cent of the companies surveyed saw "poor collaboration between Marketing and R&D as the largest obstacle to improved return on innovation investment."

The survey's results are shown below.

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Image: Boston Consulting Group.

'Innovation Readiness Gap'

Earlier in 2021, BCG asked respondents several questions which allowed them to use their 'innovation-to-impact (i2i) benchmarking framework to "assess the readiness of their innovation systems." BCG says that an i2i score of 100 would be classed as 'perfect', however it pointed out that only about a quarter of committed innovators achieved a score of 80 or above.

"The median committed innovator fell short of best practice on every i2i dimension, sometimes significantly. And by definition, if that’s how the median performer fared, half of committed innovators score even lower," BCG said in a statement.

An explanation of the Innovation Readiness Gap is provided below.


Image: Boston Consulting Group.

The Impact of COVID-19 on Innovation

The Coronavirus has affected businesses in many ways from being forced to work from home to financial difficulties and much more. However, one area that doesn't seem to have been negatively impacted is innovation and total shareholder return.

The shareholder return on the companies surveyed saw a significant increase of 17 percentage points compared to that of the top 50 companies in 2020. Commenting on the rise, BCG stated: " Our pre-pandemic 50 most innovative companies of 2020 have outperformed the index by a staggering 17 percentage points in the past year—and even if you remove high-flying tech giants (Apple, Google, Amazon, Facebook, and Netflix), top innovators’ outperformance is still 13 percentage points."

If we look at shareholder return before the Coronavirus pandemic, it becomes a very different story.

Boston Consulting Group stated: "Superior readiness drives value creation - and resilience. Consider BCG’s annual roster of the world’s 50 most innovative companies.

"The 50 most innovative companies of 2007, just prior to the Great Financial Crisis, delivered total shareholder returns between 2007 and 2012 that were 4 percentage points higher per year than the market."

A graph detailing the shareholder return's acceleration during the pandemic can be seen below.


Image: Boston Consulting Group.

From this data, it is clear that there has been a rise in the total shareholder return since December 2019. The dark green line, representing the Boston Consulting Group Most Innovative Companies results indicates a total rise of 33 percentage points, and a rise of 17 percentage points over the world data, which stands at 116 percentage points.

Innovation as a Priority

Boston Consulting Group saw a rise in the number of organisations that reported innovation as one of their top three priorities after being surveyed earlier this year. In a statement about the result, BCG commented: " The number of companies reporting that innovation is among their organizations’ top three priorities is up 10 percentage points in 2021 to 75 per cent."

This is the largest year-over-year increase in the 15 global innovation surveys that the company has seen since it started conducting them in 2005.

In comparison, 65 per cent of organisations surveyed marked innovation as a top three priority.

BCG's Top 50 Most Innovative Companies of 2021

Below is the full list of BCG's top 50 most innovative companies, as led by Apple. It is also displayed, along with further information in the full report.  


               Image: Boston Consulting Group.

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Jun 16, 2021

SAS: Improving the British Army’s decision making with data

British Army
3 min
Roderick Crawford, VP and Country GM, explains the important role that SAS is playing in the British Army’s digital transformation

SAS’ long-standing relationship with the British Army is built on mutual respect and grounded by a reciprocal understanding of each others’ capabilities, strengths, and weaknesses. Roderick Crawford, VP and Country GM for SAS UKI, states that the company’s thorough grasp of the defence sector makes it an ideal partner for the Army as it undergoes its own digital transformation. 

“Major General Jon Cole told us that he wanted to enable better, faster decision-making in order to improve operational efficiency,” he explains. Therefore, SAS’ task was to help the British Army realise the “significant potential” of data through the use of artificial intelligence (AI) to automate tasks and conduct complex analysis.

In 2020, the Army invested in the SAS ‘Viya platform’ as an overture to embarking on its new digital roadmap. The goal was to deliver a new way of working that enabled agility, flexibility, faster deployment, and reduced risk and cost: “SAS put a commercial framework in place to free the Army of limits in terms of their access to our tech capabilities.”

Doing so was important not just in terms of facilitating faster innovation but also, in Crawford’s words, to “connect the unconnected.” This means structuring data in a simultaneously secure and accessible manner for all skill levels, from analysts to data engineers and military commanders. The result is that analytics and decision-making that drives innovation and increases collaboration.

Crawford also highlights the importance of the SAS platform’s open nature, “General Cole was very clear that the Army wanted a way to work with other data and analytics tools such as Python. We allow them to do that, but with improved governance and faster delivery capabilities.”

SAS realises that collaboration is at the heart of a strong partnership and has been closely developing a long-term roadmap with the Army. “Although we're separate organisations, we come together to work effectively as one,” says Crawford. “Companies usually find it very easy to partner with SAS because we're a very open, honest, and people-based business by nature.”

With digital technology itself changing with great regularity, it’s safe to imagine that SAS’ own relationship with the Army will become even closer and more diverse. As SAS assists it in enhancing its operational readiness and providing its commanders with a secure view of key data points, Crawford is certain that the company will have a continually valuable role to play.

“As warfare moves into what we might call ‘the grey-zone’, the need to understand, decide, and act on complex information streams and diverse sources has never been more important. AI, computer vision and natural language processing are technologies that we hope to exploit over the next three to five years in conjunction with the Army.”

Fundamentally, data analytics is a tool for gaining valuable insights and expediting the delivery of outcomes. The goal of the two parties’ partnership, concludes Crawford, will be to reach the point where both access to data and decision-making can be performed qualitatively and in real-time.

“SAS is absolutely delighted to have this relationship with the British Army, and across the MOD. It’s a great privilege to be part of the armed forces covenant.”


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