The most innovative companies in Asia according to BCG

29 July 2020 3 min. read

Ten Asian companies have made Boston Consulting Group’s (BCG) top 50 most innovative companies in the world ranking. Samsung, Huawei, Alibaba and Sony all rank in the top 10. 

BCG surveyed 1,000 business leaders across the globe to identify the most innovative players, not only using its own metrics for evaluation but also drawing on a vote from global innovation executives. The top 50 list is based on the share of votes from all executives, and how each firm is regarded by peers, competitors and companies in entirely different sectors. Total shareholder return (TSR) is also a key consideration.

Apple emerged as the global innovation leader this year, followed by Alphabet, Amazon and Microsoft. Boston Consulting Group has been publishing its innovation top 50 for 14 years now, and these four companies have consistently featured at the top.

As has Seoul-based consumer technology and electronics firm Samsung, which nestles in the last top-five spot to rank as the most innovative company in Asia this year.

The 50 most innovative companies of 2020Also in the top ten and following immediately in the spots after Samsung are two Chinese giants: Shenzhen-based telecom firm Huawei and Hangzhou-based ecommerce giant Alibaba. Both companies made remarkable progress over the course of last year, with Huawei recording the largest jump on the list of 42 places, most likely owing to its expansion through the global 5G landscape.

Alibaba’s growing diversification also saw it jump 16 spots and breaking in to the top 10. Rounding up the Asian presence in the top 10 is Tokyo-based consumer technology firm Sony, which made a return to the list after a brief spell out. Shenzhen-based multinational holding company Tencent is the next Asian name on BCG’s list, ranking in 14th and also making a return to the list after having slipped out last year. LG Electronics follows in 18th.

In the 20s are Beijing-based consumer electronics company Xiaomi and Tokyo-based Hitachi. Beijing-based ecommerce giant, meanwhile, made it to BCG’s top 50 list for the first time in 31st place. Japanese automotive giant Toyota is another name that has been on BCG’s top 50 list since it was first started, featuring as number 41 and rounding off Asia’s presence in the rankings. The company has been among the global leaders in the automotive shift towards vehicular autonomy and electrification.

All in all, the top 50 innovators are spread across a variety of industries and markets, as are the Asian companies that feature on the list. BCG notes the increasing value of innovation in the global market, evidenced by the fact that the smallest companies on its list make average revenues of $30 billion, as opposed to $11 billion when the list first started.

Most boundary breakers come from the software industryThat being said, the list has been populated by several different companies over the years. In fact, barring the top five on this year’s list, as well as Toyota, HP and IBM, no other company has consistently featured in the top 50 since the ranking was first launched in 2005. According to the researchers, this is an indication of how hard it is to innovate constantly and with success.

Revenues and consistency aside, certain trends across the top 50 also reflect the state of the market right now and its evolution in recent years. For instance, innovation in today’s market signifies cutting across national, functional and sectoral boundaries, which a growing number of global firms are managing to do.

BCG notes that the majority of such “boundary breakers” come from the software or technology space, followed closely by the automotive, industrial goods and chemicals sectors. Examples include Apple and Alphabet in the global sphere and Sony and Xiaomi in the Asian markets, all of which are cutting across industry lines.