Emerging-market companies have grown faster than companies in developed markets in most industries over the past decade. One big reason is their embrace of digital technologies. Nowhere is the trend toward digitization more evident than among the 100 companies that we call global challengers, many of which are leveraging digital technologies both to win in emerging markets and to compete globally with multinationals.

A growing number of global challengers are digital leaders. Almost 60% of the companies on the 2018 global challenger list are either digital natives or significant digital adopters, compared with only 17% that made significant use of digital technologies in 2012.

These companies are achieving their leadership positions by leapfrogging their developed-market counterparts. Some are innovators in digital technologies—bringing their inventions to market, building major businesses on new tech foundations, and taking share from developed-market competitors. Others innovate in their use of technology to develop new products and services in more traditional industries or to upend traditional ways of manufacturing or delivering products and services. The nontech companies among the global challengers are using digital technologies to improve operations and overcome many of the physical, financial, and commercial hurdles to doing business in emerging markets, including those related to geography, logistics, and infrastructure.

Global challengers develop their digital capabilities in three main ways: They invest in internal innovation programs and research and development. They pursue partnerships and join digital ecosystems or establish their own. And they acquire digital capabilities through M&A and private investments in startup companies and technologies. All are proving to be highly productive avenues to digital development.

Discover who these companies are and how they are making an impact. Download the full report.


Our Methodology

Selecting the 2018 Global Challengers 100

Digital capabilities put many global challengers in a strong position to challenge developed-market companies for leadership.