Think about companies and products that have shown up on your radar within the past five years. Did you have Instagram five years ago? Would you have known what a GoPro was or what it did five years ago? What about other forms of technology like FitBit, Snapchat or Tinder? These are pretty tech-framed examples, but this is only a smattering of products that have put a mark on pop culture and the world in recent years.
Every year, more and more companies put out products and services that help shape our lives, whether it’s by producing the aforementioned technology or creating innovations in the world of industry that make our lives better, whether we know it or not. It’s possible that some of the biggest and best inventions and innovations of the millennium will come out this year – it might sound unlikely, but they have to happen sometime, right? Why not now?
It’s more likely than ever that companies will continue to make ground breaking advances in many fields this year, and these 12 companies are likely to do it bigger than anyone else.
As much as newer social media platforms like Instagram and Twitter seem more en vogue if the media has anything to say about it, Facebook still wins the connectivity race with over 1.5 billion active users flocking to the social network every month.
This form of world-changing isn’t so much concrete as it is metaphorical and less tangible than some other list-making examples. Facebook has certainly made its mark on pop culture and the world at large, whether it’s because of its status as a known ISIS recruitment and communication tool or a way to spread viral messages of the positive variety, Facebook has affected, and will continue to affect, the lives of literally every person alive – and what’s more world-changing than that?
11 Cisco Systems
It’s a hard time for the entire Middle Eastern part of the world right now, and you probably need no explanation why. Between war, government takeovers and terrorism threatening millions of lives every day, it’s hard for normal and everyday processes to occur natural in these countries. War doesn’t help your economy much when you’re the country being used as the battle ground.
Cisco Systems is trying to come to the rescue, and other big tech companies like Google have followed suit. Cisco already provides most of the networking infrastructures found in the Middle East, but the company has now helped the area’s IT outsourcing sector grow over 60% in a four year time span. The Middle East is still a large area of conflict, and Cisco will continue their efforts for the years to come.
It might be hard to think about a credit card company as a good guy – and remember, this list is about changing the world, not necessarily making it a better place. MasterCard, however, is succeeding at doing both and will likely continue to do so in the coming year.
Take this one example: the credit card company agreed to partner with the South African government in the last few years. After implementing a program that better distributes social benefits on debit cards to over 10 million people in the country, fraud crimes are significantly lower and the country has saved over $250 million over a span of only two years. If they can do this in a few years, what can they do with 2016?
Renewable resources and clean power are two of the hot button items in the world of innovation right now. In this day and age, where there is so much discussion of global warming, toxic emissions and environmental protection, those who harness the most clean energy are the ones who rule, and change, the world.
Enter Enel. If you haven’t heard of them, it’s alright – they’re a major hundred billion dollar utility company in Italy. This utility company is somehow the front-runner in the race to establish a foothold in the clean energy market with 38% of its energy output coming from renewable sources in 2014. Thinking to the not-so-distant future, Enel wants to be carbon-neutral by the year 2050.
It’s likely you’ve either driven or ridden in a Toyota – and if that’s not the case, it’s impossible for you to not have at least seen one in your lifetime. One such vehicle you’re probably familiar with is the Toyota Prius, known for being innovative as the first truly successful hybrid car with the intent of helping reduce emissions in the auto industry. Unbelievably, the idea took off, and now green cars are becoming more common. Who’d have thought, right?
Now Toyota is doing it again. Last September, the auto manufacturer announced and launched the Toyota Mirai – now going down in history as the first fuel-cell vehicle to be mass produced. This car literally emits nothing but water. Within the next couple of years, the Mirai may be the Prius all over again.
7 Novo Nordisk
What’s more world-changing than healing the globe? Novo Nordisk, the Danish drug manufacturer, had an idea in the mid-90's to start helping out in a country that was greatly suffering from a diabetes outbreak. No, not America – China. The United States has plenty of diabetics, but China's numbers were around 100 million.
How could they help, you might ask? By educating the Chinese public and training physicians on how to better treat the disease, as well as making insulin more publicly available via local manufacturing of the drug, the company has saved many lives in the nation. With China as one of the global powers in the world, Novo has shown they have what it takes to effectively change the world – or at least a part of it, and will continue to do so.
You likely know what Kickstarter is, and therefore you’re familiar with crowdfunding. If not, let’s get you up to speed really quick: crowdfunding is where the public at large donates money to instigate a product, event, or cause, and Kickstarter is the most popular site to do this on online. Crowdfunding in general has become a very huge phenomena and has changed the way the entire business industry thinks recently.
Kickstarter specifically, though, has been the catalyst behind numerous big deal crowdfunding projects, especially in the world of the arts. In general, Kickstarter has helped around 10 million people complete about 100,000 projects as of late 2015. This trend will only continue as we move to 2017.
Yes, Starbucks is indeed changing the world by making delicious coffee drinks and desserts that wake us up in the morning, but that’s not all they do. Starbucks is honestly a global phenomenon, with over 20,000 stores across the world. With this kind of size, it’s hard to imagine that all of their items are ethically sourced. This is the kind of problem big businesses run into when they get large but want to keep costs low – unethical acquisition just pays more.
Starbucks doesn’t seem to think so, though. Almost 100% of their coffee is sourced ethically and they regularly invest in coffee farms that produce the beans they use in their products – about $50 million by the year 2020. This kind of commitment to ethical business is a fresh change, and one that will certainly set trends in the coming years.
As one of the biggest and well-known shopping centers in the world, and certainly the biggest and most well-known in America, Walmart is certainly a contender for this list as they make strides and innovations to service almost constantly. Not only does the company sell products at low prices, they also help make sustainable items that don’t cost any more than their predecessor.
For instance, Walmart helped create the Purex PowerShot laundry detergent, designed to use less water than other forms of detergent. While being green via this one method, the product also claims to be 30% more efficient and 50% more effective than its any other competitor, all while still holding on to the same price tag. This is something they can easily do over and over again, and when you add this to the fact that they are champions for saving electricity and recycling? Walmart is certainly making waves in the commerce world.
Malaria probably isn’t on your radar in countries that are well developed and medically innovative. When’s the last time you heard someone just happening upon malaria in the US or being stung by an infected mosquito in the U.K.? However, many third-world and developing nations still have a problem with the deadly disease, enough to kill over half a million people every year.
GSK worked for thirty years to develop a vaccine for the deadly disease that infects over 200 million people globally every year. It was approved by the European Medicines Agency (EMA) in the middle of 2015 with a very high success rate for preventing cases of malaria in children – it reduced their chances of infection by 40%. The benefits of this vaccine will be seen for years to come, but GSK isn’t stopping there. They look forward to helping reduce HIV in the future.
Not every company can say they literally changed the face of a nation, but these two can. Based in the U.K. and Kenya respectively, Vodafone and Safaricom originally started a mobile-money platform in 2007. The idea behind the service, called M-Pesa, was that anyone without a bank account could still exchange commerce via the app that allowed for transferring money in order to pay bills or handle cash without actually holding print bills and coins.
This seems useful in the developing world – much like apps like PayPal and Samsung Pay – but the true gravity of this kind of tech being implemented in third world and underdeveloped areas wasn’t understood until it actually hit. In a country like Kenya where people are more likely to have a cheap cell phone than the ability to make a bank account, 42% of the entire country’s GDP is transacted through the service. This kind of innovation is likely to continue around the globe.
It would honestly be a travesty to not include Google as the number one spot-holder on a list of companies changing the planet. Maybe they’ve already done so much for the world that you think they shouldn’t count, but Google isn’t letting up anytime soon. Not just an Internet search engine, Google has entirely changed to world of technology as we see it, and they’ll continue to do so far into the future.
It’s hard to say exactly what Google’s going to be doing to change the world within the next year, or even ten years, simply because their reach is so vast. We’re thoroughly enjoying all of the products and features that have changed the entire face of technology and the Internet, so we’re sure to like everything else they come up with. Between the help of services like Earth and Translate, the world is shrinking – and it’s changing every day.