The top 10 World’s Most Admired Companies: Apple and Amazon lead

09 March 2017 4 min. read
Apple, and Starbucks are the World’s Most Admired Companies, according to Fortune 500 and Korn Ferry Hay Group's benchmark. These companies garner unprecedented levels of high regard and success. The study too found that the companies are increasingly focused on taking part in the digital economy, with many seeing the transformation as relatively positive, but also difficult - many lack the skills needed to execute their digital transformation strategies.
The World’s Most Admired Companies (WMAC) ranking offers a benchmark for the reputation of the world’s largest corporates. The ranking has been made by Fortune 500 and consultancy firm Korn Ferry Hay Group for the past 20 years, and has been running for 61 years. Through the ranking, and analysis, a more detailed picture of how the world’s largest firms are dealing with current pressing trends is revealed.
The database contains some of the world’s largest companies – Fortune 500 firms, which generate $12.5 trillion in revenue and almost $1 trillion in profit. The market capitalisation of the companies stands at around $17 trillion, they employ 26.8 million people. The ranking is based on companies that are among the top 50 overall “all-stars” or ranked among the top three in their respective industries. In addition to the ranking, a survey was completed by 598 senior executives from WMACs.
Top of the list this year is Apple, the company ranks highly on all key metrics. comes second, scoring well on Use of Corporate Assets and Quality of Products/Services but less strong in Social Responsibility. Starbucks takes the number three spot on the back of an all-round excellent score. Warren Buffet’s holding company, Berkshire Hathaway, scores well across almost all metrics – bar social responsibility – and comes forth, while Disney rounds off the top five.

The top ten Worlds Most Admired Companies

Google parent Alphabet comes in sixth, let down by relatively poorer use of Use of Corporate Assets, while General Electric takes the number seven spot, faltering slightly on Financial Soundness concerns. Southwest Airlines comes eighth, due in part to low Global Competitiveness and poor Social Responsibility, while social media giant Facebook and technology firm Microsoft complete the top ten.

The Digital Economy

The survey for this year's benchmark report was also focused on identifying how companies are reacting to a number of key market trends. One area that the research found to be of particular importance to WMACs is the digital economy, cited as “critical” or “very important” focus areas for 89% of companies. The digital economy is stated as having had a “positive” or “somewhat positive” effect on 75% of the WMACs surveyed.

“It’s not surprising that the World’s Most Admired Companies are taking a proactive approach when it comes to preparing leaders and employees to respond to new opportunities the digital economy will bring,” says Mel Stark, a Senior Client Partner at Korn Ferry Hay Group. “The Most Admired realise that responding to this revolution isn’t just a ‘nice to have’ – it’s critical to the survival of their organisation.”

The digital economy doesn’t come without some form of transformation, with around 70% of respondents noting that their organisational culture will need to change to execute digital strategies. Many of the companies surveyed (56%) note that they currently lack the skills and capabilities required to execute their digital strategy. The research further finds that companies are taking decision at the right level (78%), while also (68%) allowing employees to take risks without fear of adverse consequence for failure.

Mark Royal a Senior Director at Korn Ferry Hay Group, remarks, “The World’s Most Admired Companies recognise that encouraging cross-company collaboration and empowering employees to make decisions and take risks are crucial to succeeding in the digital world. These exemplary companies also know that new structures and ways of working, open boundaries, and connected ecosystems are essential to being able to continuously adapt to the opportunities offered by the digital economy.”