20 companies to watch in 2012

See also:
20 companies to watch in 2010
20 companies to watch in 2011

Welcome to the third annual hotlist of tech companies you should be watching in the next 12 months.

We’ve collected a roll-call of companies, both established market leaders and young pretenders, which 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:
Mike Altendorf: CIO UK contributor
Angela Ashenden: MWD Advisors
Jon Baker: director of business technology for media distribution & consumer products licensing Disney Emea
Nic Bellenberg: consultant
Slava Budin-Jones: R&DIT GlaxoSmithKline
Jerry Fishenden: CIO UK contributor
Helena Schwenk: MWD Advisors
Robert Teagle: EMEA IT director, Starbucks Coffee Emea
Neil Ward Dutton: MWD Advisors

Acquired by oracle in late 2010, this business line provides enterprises with a cohesive online customer experience platform with sophisticated merchandising, marketing, and live-help services. It also specialises in content personalization, automated recommendations engineering. As one of only two enterprise scale multi- channel commerce platforms, the business is sure to be of interest to any business seriously exploring extending its core business into online activity.

Birst was an early pioneer of Saas-based BI and has grown steadily since its inception by providing capabilities for ETL (extract, transform, load), data warehousing, query, reporting, multi-dimensional analysis and dashboards targeted primarily at midsize companies or departments in large organisations. While there is a large assortment of public cloud BI players in the market, what makes Birst interesting is its recent move towards supporting on-premise deployments too, via its software-only appliance offering. Utilising the same architecture as its public cloud offering the company can offer some of the economics of a SaaS based deployment (in terms of faster time-to-value, scale and reduced management) while also giving customers the added control and manageability of an on-premise installation. While most of the established on-premise BI players are gradually ramping up their cloud presence it will be interesting to observe how a SaaS BI player can work in reverse, by effectively transitioning to an on-premise model while still keeping its value proposition of easy-to-use and affordable BI intact.

Box targets the space between content management and collaboration, more particularly in an online, SaaS-based model. Ithas created an interesting niche for itself which has not really been recognised by the broader business software market.

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