by Julian Goldsmith

Twenty companies to watch in 2011

Jan 20, 2011
Mobile Apps

As always, the pace of change in the IT world is dizzyingly swift and a lot can happen in a year. Here is a list of tech companies – both established market leaders and young pretenders  – are likely to make a mark on the coming twelve months.

The list has been compiled from suggestions supplied by a group of industry experts, including independent analysts and IT department heads.

Contributors include: Angela Ashenden: MWD Advisors Jon Baker: Director of Business Technology for Media Distribution & Consumer Products Licensing  Disney Emea Matt Ballantine: Head of IT Imagination Nic Bellenberg: IT Director, Hachette Filipacchi UK Jeremy Butterfield: Head of IT Milk Link Andy Hayler: Consultant and blogger Andy Mulholland: Global CTO Capgemini Chris Price: Head of ICT solutions Highways Agency Helena Schwenk: MWD Advisors Emma Sinden: Ruder Finn Neil Ward-Dutton: MWD Advisors

Active Endpoints Active Endpoints started life as a vendor of SOA integration infrastructure, but in the past couple of years it’s extended its ActiveVOS product to include more and more Business Process Management (BPM) functionality, adding an event processing capability along the way.

The company pitches itself very squarely as a provider of BPM technology for use by mainstream business software developers and architects (rather than for line-of-business managers), and this – combined with attractive pricing – has proven to be a very successful strategy. Active Endpoints has been growing consistently strongly over the past couple of years, but 2010 was a standout: it saw 100 per cent revenue growth.

Aster Data After securing $30m (£18.7m) investment at the end of last year, Aster Data has a lot to be positive about in 2011. The company is one of a small but growing number of data management vendors offering an innovative approach to large-scale data management and advanced analytic processing through its use of the MapReduce framework.

Using a combination of embedded analytics and a high performance, large scale data management platform, Aster Data supports complex and data intensive applications such as those for web analytics, customer behaviour analytics and fraud detection. With organisations looking to find new ways to use and analyse the vast amount of data they have been collecting but not exploiting in 2011, Aster Data and its analytic database platform is well positioned to make the most of this opportunity.

Apple Apple will continue to force IT to re-evaluate how services are delivered to users.  With iPhone 5, iPad 2 and the OSX Lion releases pencilled in, Gen X users will have even more cause to demand that IT delivers information and services the way that they want them, as the distinction between consumer and professional tech is evaporating.  But what ripples will Steve Jobs’ illness cause? We all need to watch Apple carefully.

Bonitasoft BPM technology provider BonitaSoft was founded in 2008 off the back of a research project that first started in academia in 2001, before being open-sourced in 2003 and then further developed within French IT vendor Bull. Following a cash injection from a VC in 2009, BonitaSoft redeveloped the technology from scratch, yielding the Bonita Open Solution – which has some strong capabilities, and which the company provides commercial training and support services for.

Since then, it’s been on an impressive path: community contributions to the offering have significant momentum, and in the commercial domain the company is also making strong strides.  In the last three months of 2010 it opened two US offices, achieved 500,000 downloads of the core product, and surpassed 100 enterprise customers. This utility software company offers a browser-based website testing and monitoring service. It sits in a growing space that combines the power of cloud computing and the acciessibility of open source software to keep its products affordable to companies that would otherwise not be able to use such a service. BrowserMob introduced its first product in November 2008 and has steadily climbed to profitability since then. In July, 2010 BrowserMob was acquired by Neustar.

To see the next five companies to watch in 2011, click on the link below

Cloudreach Cloudreach is a ground-up cloud-focused supplier offering support and service for services that sit on top of providers like Amazon Web Services and Google. Cloudreach (and other startups like them) is sert to really steal a march on the big, traditional ISVs. Companies working in the established IT market are really struggling to re-focus their services into a much lower margin cloud world. Firms that are emerging into the new cloud market are gearing for a lower cost, lower maintenance, cloud world-based business model arn are going to benefit as a result.

Google While Google is not a new face in the enterprise collaboration market, it’s beginning to gain traction with its cloud-based approach particularly in the email space (many organisations are working their way around corporate systems – using personal email accounts to get around mailbox and message size limits, for instance), but increasingly also in the broader collaboration software market with Google Apps being viewed as a great platform for building the next generation of intranets.

While enterprise collaboration accounts for only a small proportion of the company’s overall business, the level of Google investment in this market will continue to reinforce this momentum and help it challenge the competition, both large and small. Google will also potentially cause a shift this year with the release of the Chrome OS Netbook.  Whether this will it cause a shift away from traditional operating and services, only time will tell. But the launch will certainly make an impact in this space over the coming year.

HP Putting HP as a ‘one to watch’ in 2011 may be a surprise to some, especially considering its recent form in the analytics and information management (IM) space. Only last month the company was forced to deny it had mothballed its data warehousing platform Neoview based on disappointing customer momentum and revenue. Whether or not the rumours are true we still believe HP has plans for its Business Intelligence (BI) and IM software business in 2011.

The recent appointment of Leo Apotheker as CEO of HP (and former CEO of SAP) and Marge Breya (who was responsible for SAP’s BI and IM solutions) bring plenty of expertise, experience and leadership to HP in the software market -let’s also not forget Apotheker was CEO when SAP bought Business Objects in 2007. Similarly HP already has an investment in BI and data warehousing services through its Knightsbridge consulting organisation which it acquired in 2006.  As Leo has already stated he wants to grow HP’s software business, so it’s only a matter of time before the company makes an acquisition. For what it’s worth we believe the leading contenders in the analytics and IM space will be Teradata, MicroStrategy or Informatica.

Joyent If this constant cycle of change, with the quick builds and scaling of new services by using cloud resources is the future, then the next generation of data centres will look very different. The current model focuses on the introduction of a limited number of applications which in turn dictate the operating system as the interface to the hardware, but in the new model of clouds a simple standardisation layer sits over the entire resources of the data centre to make them available as a single virtualised resource, and not as the current collection of individually virtualised machines to run applications and their operating systems more efficiently. Joyent have successfully introduced the software driven data centre.

Oracle Since acquiring Haley/Ruleburst and establishing it as its policy automation tool, it is strongly placed to change the way a lot of rules-based business processes are encoded and operated. Already in use in some public sector organisations, Oracle Policy Automation (OPA) could help drive Oracle into places it has not been before, driving the much hyped operational efficiencies so much talked about and so little delivered.

With key Sun acquisitions also in its stable – notably Java and Open Office (now Oracle Office) – Oracle has the portfolio and the depth enterprise stack to drive a significant wedge into competitors’ business, and cut customer costs.

To see the next five companies to watch in 2011, click on the link below

Postcode Anywhere One to consider is a data quality company called Postcode Anywhere, a UK company that is interesting because it has built name and address  cleansing entirely as a cloud- based software as a service (SaaS), when competitors generally rely on traditional installed software.  This has allowed transaction-based pricing, lowering the barriers to entry.  They have built up 8,000 customers in the last decade.

Quora Quora is a nice blend of LinkedIn answers and Twitter that gives users access to a continually improving information resource. It’s driven by users’ queries, so it should be a useful primer on the burning issues of the day. whether it will get off the ground depends greatly on whether Facebook decides this is an area it wants to get into.

Revolution Analytics Revolution Analytics (formerly Revolution Computing) is a commercial open source provider for predictive analytics software built around the R statistical programming language.  The rise of the open source languages such as R and the commercial open source offerings based on them, are providing a lower cost alternative to proprietary offerings; effectively allowing companies to do predictive analytics on a lower budget.

By successfully leveraging and building on the open source R community (with its 2 million users) Revolution Analytics is already seeing significant success.  According to the company it managed to triple its enterprise customer base and increase revenue from its leading commercial product offering by over 450 per cent in 2010. Revolution Analytics will have a strong future in 2011. With the release of Salesforce Chatter in mid-2010, has already caused some ripples and debate in the collaboration software market, and with its latest acquisition of web conferencing vendor DimDim the company is sending the message that it has serious plans to compete in this space, with the resources available to help it achieve that. We expect to see other acquisitions going forward, particularly to help it build its ability to engage not just within its existing customer base, but in the broader enterprise market.

The company’s tie-up with VMware to deliver the Spring Java framework as an alternative for its Cloud Computing platform, followed by its December acquisition of Heroku to add equivalent development support for popular high-productivity web scripting language Ruby, shows that as well as building out a rich application environment, Salesforce is very serious about cementing a position as a provider of Cloud Computing platforms for mainstream enterprises and ISVs.

SCVNGR On the social media front, SCVNGR is a great concept that is designed to make money from the start and cleverly combines location based marketing with gaming. It has already scooped up some high profile marketing deals with the likes of Nissan by combining digital and real-world interactivity, taking advantage of so-called enhanced reality technology. It’s the sort of application that could really catch users’ imaginations and the company has financial backing from big hitters in the industry, such as Google.

To see the next five companies to watch in 2011, click on the link below

Spigit A lot gets talked about innovation as a means to keep perpetually repositioning a business and its offerings in the light of changing markets and opportunities. However, little is said about managing innovation as a life-cycle. A particularly important point if the short cycles are a reality. That introduces Spigit and its abilities to manage the entire process.

Telligent As one of the larger independent vendors targeting the online communities and enterprise collaboration market, Telligent is unusual in that its main focus is delivering on-premise software. This makes it a more digestible proposition than its SaaS-based competitors for large, regulated organisations who need full control of their data as well has having more complex integration requirements, enabling it to compete with the large enterprise software vendors in opportunities where its hosted competitors simply cannot.

Another aspect of Telligent’s proposition which will provide an important differentiator for it in 2011 is its social analytics solution, which enables organisations to both understand how their online community is functioning, as well as identify trends, drill down on individual users’ activity, and measure the community’s ROI.

UC4 One area that seems to be getting a lot of attention is technology to help you manage the cloud. There are lots of terms being bandied around at the moment but gaining a lot of traction is service governance. It’s basically figuring out how you manage a hybrid infrastructure that is part cloud in a way which enables you to get the benefits and transition in a way that reduces the impact of the change on the business.

Many CIOs see the potential benefit of cloud but managing it in a way that ensures the business actually receive those benefits is the tricky bit. UC4 – a company focusing on intelligent service automation is hot in this space. It is all about software automation that responds to changes in the business rather than just the technology and gives the IT team the time and space to focus on the stuff that actually matters to the business.

Vertica In the data warehousing field, US-based Vertica is interesting.  There are many appliance vendors now hoping to emulate Netezza, but Vertica has achieved a lot more commercial success than most of the pack, combining a columnar analytic database with massively parallel processing to allow customers considerable performance and cost savings over traditional database approaches.

Zoho In just five years, Zoho has built up a staggering portfolio of more than twenty applications in the areas of collaboration, office productivity and business apps, to the point where today it provides almost everything (in the IT sense at least) that a small or medium organisation needs to run their business.

Zoho’s rate of development is staggering, and as its customer numbers grow, its understanding of the strategy required to meet the needs of the SMB market in the long term is becoming extremely convincing. What makes the company particularly interesting is that it balances this position with a clear recognition of the need for integration, supporting the real world of heterogeneity and complexity in businesses today.

Pic: gerloscc2.0

Do you agree with this list? If not, post your own suggestions in the comments box below