Tesla, Lululemon, Mastercard among top future-ready companies on aggressiveness, digitisation: IMD

The study said that future-ready companies that reoriented themselves to new trends before the pandemic outpaced their competitors. PHOTOS: REUTERS

SINGAPORE (THE BUSINESS TIMES) - Tesla, Lululemon, Mastercard and Google are among the top companies globally that are ready for the post-pandemic economy and resilient enough to survive fast and frequent changes, said the Institute for Management Development's (IMD) Centre for Future Readiness.

In the Future Readiness Indicator - a study released on Wednesday (Dec 15) - IMD ranked 86 of the highest-grossing public-listed companies in the fashion and retail, automotive, financial services, and technology industries - from countries including the United States, China, Germany, Japan and Singapore - to measure the corporate world's resilience.

The study said that future-ready companies that reoriented themselves to new trends before the Covid-19 pandemic outpaced their competitors. These trends include moving more aggressively than competitors - from exploring new capabilities to actively exploiting them - and digitising.

IMD noted that "digitising" is different in each industry. For sportswear brands, it involves automating supply chains, while luxury brands use advanced data analytics to manage high-end customers. Financial services companies use artificial intelligence driven applications, while electric vehicle makers can rewrite software "on the fly".

Future-ready companies also have a single and clear shared perspective, to make tough, critical decisions and target resources to gain financial returns from innovation. For instance, top payment companies moved away from plastic cards, and also use AI-driven payment systems.

Furthermore, these companies form mutually beneficial collaborations with competitors, such as in areas of talent and technology. For example, IMD noted that automakers without software expertise collaborated with electronics designers from the gaming, entertainment, and programming sectors.

In addition, the companies draw on knowledge from other sectors, with automakers such as Tesla learning from luxury retail brands to market their high-end all-electric autos.

Covid-19 had served as a "dramatic test case" for corporates, and rewarded companies that built up their capabilities ahead of time while exposing the institutional inertia of those that did not, IMD said.

Professor Howard Yu, author of the Future Readiness Indicator at IMD, said: "Our predictive analytics equips executives with intelligence to not just recover from the recent economic blow, but better respond to tomorrow's disruptions - like Omicron - with lessons on how not just to survive, but thrive, in the future."

On the topic of environmental, social and corporate governance (ESG), IMD said ESG spending alone will not improve a company's image, as ESG goals should be directly related to underlying business strategies.

However, the study noted that ESG efforts do correlate strongly with other future-readiness activities, such as exploiting new initiatives and committing resources to improve business.

The top fashion and retail companies were sportswear brands Lululemon and Nike, as well as luxury brands Hermes, Burberry, Kering, and LVMH, while the top automotive companies include Tesla, Toyota, BMW, Ford and Hyundai.

The top financial services companies were Mastercard, Visa, Ant Group, Square and Paypal, while the top tech companies include Google, Amazon, Microsoft, Facebook and US-based semiconductor company AMD.

Meanwhile, IMD noted that the companies which fared much worse than expected were Apple, IBM, Twitter, Spotify, HSBC, Audi and Sony.

IMD is an independent academic institution in Switzerland for business leaders.

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