Rated Ranking: The Most Innovative Companies 2018

Rated Ranking: The Most Innovative Companies 2018


After Forbes has has published the annual list of the “Most Innovative Companies” for many years, CNBC has published the 2018 edition for the first time. The ranking is still compiled by Boston Consulting Group’s (BCG), who have surveyed wide range of countries and industries since 2005 to help cast light on the perceived state of innovation in global business. Like in recent years, this year’s report names 50 companies that – according to BCG – are seen as “most innovative” worldwide.

The methodology is based on a perception survey among 1,000 senior managers across multiple industries globally and – complementary – on three financial measures over a three-year period: total shareholder return (TSR), revenue growth and margin growth. Respondents’ votes counted for 80 per cent of the ranking, while TSR for 10 per cent, and revenue and margin growth for 5 per cent each. The top managers were asked to rank the most innovative companies both in their own and in all industries and five-year growth is indicated in TSR. Due to this mixture of collecting perceptions AND “hard facts” plus the expertise of the seniority of survey respondents, this methodology is a robust and plausible way to measure the “innovativeness” of companies – unlike other ranking approaches that either only rely on surveys OR on so-called “hard facts” such as patents only. Respondents to the survey were not only asked to rank the most innovative companies but also to name the most important drivers for innovation in their view.

As the subtitle of this year’s ranking “Innovators Go All In on Digital” suggests, digitalization is seen as one key driver for innovation. When asked “Which of the following areas of innovation and product development will have the greatest impact in your industry over the next three to five years?”, the most frequent responses were “new products” (41%), “technology platforms” (41%) and “big data analytics” (39%).

Like last year, Apple and Google are at the top of the list, followed by Microsoft at #3. Tesla, last year’s #3, dropped 4 positions to #7 this year. Most remarkable are two new entrants to the Top 10: Uber at #9 (coming from #17 last year) and Alibaba at #10 this year, not even listed in 2017 – a spectacular jump! Bayer, the German-based pharma and agrcultural giant – just about to swallow Monsanto -, dropped from #11 last year to #27 in the new list. With Bayer dropping significantly, it is also worth mentioning that this year’s list does not cover any healthcare company among the top 20 – although the industry strongly claims to be highly innovative. The best ranked healthcare company is J&J only at #25. Geographically, North America is seen as having by far the most innovative companies, with 27 corporation featured on the list. Europe has 16 entrants, up from 10 last year. Switzerland, regularly rated as one of the most innovative countries worldwide, only has one company on the list: Nestlé at #50.

In conclusion, “Most Innovative Companies” is a highly valuable ranking to gauge and compare the innovation status of individual companies. As the ranking has a long history, comparisons and developments over time are possible. The only limitation is that the ranking is built on senior managers’ perceptions only – a very important stakeholder group, but not the only one that counts.

You can read the CNBC article incl. the full top 50 ranking table here.

Detailed information on the ranking and a PDF report can be found on the BCG website.

Relevance / Impact
– 13 points –
Added Value / Insights
– 15 points –

Trustworthiness / Intention
– 15 points –
– 13 points –

Aggregated points
– 56 (out of 60) –
Highly valuable ranking

Useful ranking with some flaws

Partially useful ranking with considerable flaws

< 30
Useless ranking

Reach of publication:

  • Global, e.g. North America, Europe and Asia (5 points)
  • Regional, e.g. Europe or North America (3 points)
  • Large national market: e.g. US, China, Japan, Germany, France, UK, Italy, Brazil (2 points)
  • Mid-sized or small market, e.g. Switzerland, Netherlands, Argentina, Singapore (1 point)

Ranking will be recognized by key stakeholders:

  • Opinion Leaders (Politicians, Professors; NGO’s) (2 points)
  • Business Advisory Board, C-Level Executives (CEO, CCO, CFO, CMO) (2 points)
  • High Potentials & Top Talents (employer market, students) (2 points)
  • Financial Market (2 points)
  • General Public (2 points)

Aggregated points: 13 (of max. 15)

Is the owner providing the ranking a credible and trustworthy organization?

  • Ranking owner has limited credibility and reputation. (1 point)
  • Ranking owner has fair credibility and reputation. (3 points)
  • Ranking owner has excellent credibility and reputation. (5 points)

What is the ranking owner’s intention to produce and disseminate the ranking?

  • Ranking is predominantly a tool to raise awareness for the owner with the possible intention to sell consultancy services. (1 point)
  • Ranking is partly a tool to raise awareness for the owner with the possible intention to sell consultancy services. (3 points)
  • Ranking is predominantly a tool to surface and share important insights on the subject surveyed. (5 points)

Is/Are the media outlet(s) where the ranking is published of high credibility and reputation?

  • Media outlet(s) has/have limited credibility and reputation. (1 point)
  • Media outlet(s) has/have fair credibility and reputation. (3 points)
  • Media outlet(s) has/have excellent credibility and reputation. (5 points)

Comment: As opposed to the recent years, the report is not covered by Forbes but by CNBC – which also a renowned media outlet.

Aggregated points: 15 (of max. 15)

Do the ranking results provide overall orientation where companies stand?

  • limited orientation only (1 point)
  • fair orientation provided (3 points)
  • very good orientation (5 points)

Is the Ranking published in the same format on a regular basis, e.g. annually, which allows to track developments and comparisons over time?

  • ranking is published for the first time (1 point)
  • ranking is published for the second time in the same format (3 points)
  • ranking is published for more than 3 times on a regular basis in the same format (5 points)

Comment: Ranking published for the 12th time in a row.

Do the ranking results provide added value and further insights on how companies are evaluated in in their industry, e.g. detailed ratings in various sub-dimensions of the overall result?

  • limited added value only (1 point)
  • fair amount of added value (3 points)
  • high amount of added value (5 points)

Aggregated points: 15 (of max. 15)

Is the ranking based on a representative survey among key stakeholders or on a jury only?

  • Ranking is based on a jury’s opinion only. (1 point)
  • Ranking is based on a small survey or only on a limited group of stakeholders. (3 points)
  • Ranking is based on a robust and representative survey. (5 points)

Comment: Only CEOs and senior executives are asked, but they are generally well-informed about the innovation status of companies. It is not transparent on how many respondents from which country the survey is based.

Is the ranking methodology easy to understand and reasonable – even for non-statisticians?

  • Methodology not easy to understand and not reasonable. (1 point)
  • Methodology fairly good to understand and reasonable. (3 points)
  • Methodology very easy to understand and reasonable. (5 points)

Is the ranking methodology easy to access and transparent?

  • Methodology not easy to find and not sufficiently transparent. (1 point)
  • Methodology fairly good to find and of medium transparency. (3 points)
  • Methodology very easy to find and of high transparency. (5 points)

Aggregated points: 13 (of max. 15)

Ranking category

  • Product / Service Brands
  • Company Brands
  • Corporate Reputation and Company Esteem
  • Social Responsibility, CSR & Sustainability, Ethical Business Practices
  • Innovation & Technology
  • Employer Attractiveness & Diversity
  • Leadership
  • Nations & Destinations
  • University & Other Institutions
  • Sports
  • Lifestyle
  • Social Media
  • Personal Branding & CEOs

Ranking statistics

  • Name of Ranking: Most Innovative Companies 2018
  • Ranking managed/produced by institute/organization: Boston Consulting Group
  • Ranking published by media outlet: CNBC
  • Date of recent publication: January 18, 2018
  • Date of previous publication: January 21, 2017 (Forbes)

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