Top 50 Most Influential Projects of the Last 50 Years

Top 50 Most Influential Projects of the Last 50 Years

by December 30, 2019

Alibaba’s Singles Day, M-Pesa, Alexa, the Belt and Road Initiative, Bitcoin and E-Estonia are amongst the most impactful projects of the last 50 years, according to a new ranking from the Project Management Institute (PMI).

The list, called Most Influential Projects, recognizes the top 50 notable and influential projects that have transformed their respective sectors and the entire business landscape over the past 50 years. The list aims to provide an inspirational reflection on how these projects have created our present.


Noteworthy projects that made the list

At the 6th position, PMI names Alibaba’s annual Singles Day, recognizing it for creating the largest e-commerce day in the world and fundamentally shifting how people shop.

Singles Day is a shopping holiday popular among young Chinese people that celebrate their price in being single. The date, November 11 (11/11), was chosen because the number “1” resembles an individual who is alone.

To boost sales, Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba has adopted a strategy consisting in combining online shopping discounts with offline entertainment. This includes hosting extravagant annual galas and hiring international celebrities such as Pharrell Williams and Jessie J to perform during events.

Each year, these televised events draw in an audience of hundreds of millions viewers who tune in to catch product launches, win prizes, and watch A-list celebrities perform.

On Singles Day 2017, sales in Alibaba’s sites Tmall and Taobao reached over US$25.4 billion and the firm set a world record for most payment transactions during the festival. Its mobile wallet app Alipay processed 256,000 payment transactions per second, for a total of 1.48 billion transactions in the entire 24 hours.

Today, Singles Day is the largest offline and online shopping day in the world and is now nearly four times the size of America’s biggest shopping days, Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

2018 11.11 Global Shopping Festival,

2018 11.11 Global Shopping Festival,

At the 9th position, PMI names the M-Pesa mobile microfinancing platform, recognizing the solution for leveraging cutting-edge mobile technology to allow Kenya to “leapfrog past more advanced economies and start a banking revolution.”

Launched in 2007, M-Pesa allows customers to use simple text messages to send money, make deposits and withdrawals, and purchase airtime minutes. Today, M-Pesa has 31.8 million active users in Kenya, and processes 1,200 transactions every second.

The platform has since evolved into a full financial services solution, and is now active in markets including Albania, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Egypt, Ghana, India, Lesotho, Mozambique, Romania and Tanzania.



At the 13th position, PMI names Amazon’s virtual assistant Alexa, which runs within the firm’s smart speakers, recognizing the technology for making voice-activated computer interface a part of everyday life.

Alexa is a virtual, computer-generated intelligent personal assistant that’s capable of voice interaction, music playback, making to-do lists, setting alarms, streaming podcasts, playing audiobooks, and providing weather, traffic, sports, and other real-time information, such as news. Alexa can also control several smart devices using itself as a home automation system.

Amazon has sold over 100 million Alexa-enabled devices, and there are now some 70,000 so-called “skills,” or apps developed by third-party vendors, available through the devices.

US-based Numerica Credit Union was amongst the first financial institutions to embrace Alexa, rolling out its voice banking assistant in March 2018.

Amazon Echo 2nd generation,

Amazon Echo 2nd generation,

At the 18th position, PMI names the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), a global development strategy adopted by the Chinese government. It recognizes it for being “the largest infrastructure program ever” that includes 1,814 projects and counting.

BPI involves infrastructure development and investments in 152 countries and international organizations in Asia, Europe, Africa, the Middle East, and the Americas.

The Chinese government calls the initiative “a bid to enhance regional connectivity and embrace a brighter future.” The project has a targeted completion date of 2049, which coincides with the 100th anniversary of the People’s Republic of China.

Belt and Road Initiative,

Belt and Road Initiative,

At the 19th position, the list names Bitcoin, recognizing it for putting cryptocurrencies on the map and giving birth to the burgeoning blockchain industry.

Over the years, the use and value of bitcoin has skyrocketed and a horde of cryptocurrencies have emerged. Startups and corporates have embraced blockchain, a technology that’s been praised for its many potentials, including improved efficiency and cost savings.

Bitcoin, Blockchain, Cryptocurrency, Pixabay

Image: Bitcoin, Pixabay

At the 42nd position, the ranking names the E-Estonia program, recognizing it for building “the world’s first digital country.”

E-Estonia is a movement by the government of Estonia aimed to facilitate citizen interactions with the state through the use of electronic solutions. E-services created under this initiative include i-Voting, e-Tax Board, e-Business, e-Banking, e-Ticket, e-School, University via internet, the e-Governance Academy, as well as the release of several mobile applications.

With E-Estonia came along E-Residency, a program launched in December 2014 to allow anyone to apply for government-issued digital identity as well as services such as company formation, banking, payment processing, and taxation.

The program, aimed towards location-independent entrepreneurs such as software developers and writers, gives e-residents a smart card which they can use to sign documents. Since the E-Residency program’s launch, Estonia has welcomed 70,000 e-residents.

Image via

Image via

Besides the general top 50 projects list, PMI has also established a ranking of what it believes to be the top 10 finance projects that have transformed the industry over the past 50 years, among which several of the general list are also present, such as Bitcoin (3rd position) and M-Pesa (5th position).

Others that made the top 10 finance projects list include the euro (1st), the Nasdaq stock market (2nd), the Shanghai Stock Exchange (4th), Alibaba’s mobile payments platform Alipay (6th), peer-to-peer mobile payments app Venmo (7th), index funds (8th), the E-Trade online trading app (9th), and the EMV payment method (10th).