This is the time of our Cool Vendors season finale — the reports showcasing fascinating technologies and breakthrough ideas are out. The season usually starts in January, when analysts submit the names of vendors that impressed them the most. It is purely an analyst choice whether to submit and what. The criteria by which a vendor is defined as “cool” are:
- Innovative – the vendor has developed technologies/products that enable users to do things they couldn’t do before
- Impactful – the vendor offers technologies/products that have or will have business impact; it’s not just “technology for the sake of technology”
- Intriguing – the vendor has caught Gartner’s interest/curiosity during the past 12 months
The rest of the season is voting, reviews and verifications of the vendors. Some vendors are voted out, and some are deemed “not” cool during reviews or reference calls, so the lists get shorter and our reports get crisper.
New ideas are the most interesting part of my work, that’s why I ended up writing about a number of vendors in various reports. I also led two research notes, where I had quite a bit of say in the vendor selection:
I am a big believer in crowdsourcing. It is not greatly popular, but has a huge potential for involving humans when everything else fails. Two crowdsourcing companies on my list — Experfy and CrowdFlower — are now among the Cool Vendors. Both are venturing into AI in their own way: CrowdFlower — through training data for images and other unstructured stuff, Experfy — through opening a new avenue for finding validated experts to do AI projects and developing high-quality training.
During the selection process, we were taking a deeper look at the companies: some of them, like iguazio and SigOpt (analyzed by my colleague Jim Hare), demonstrated even more than we expected. Some vendors took us on a journey: As part of the investigation, I was fascinated to see an unfolding story of Cortical.io. Did I say “unfolding”? Cortical.io does semantic folding. Because of Cortical.io, I discovered enthusiasts gathered around Numenta, who are inspired by the principles of neocortex. Numenta was a cool vendor four years ago. Through these enthusiasts, I found Vicarious, perhaps a future cool vendor? With enough time till the next season and even more curiosity, finding innovative, impactful and intriguing companies will be a truly gratifying job. Who is your favorite cool vendor?
Below are my cool vendors that made it to the 2017 season finale. I stand behind every one of them, as well as behind every vendor in the two reports above.
iguazio (Cool Vendors in Data Management) solves a pervasive problem of unifying different data workloads and data types — records, streams, objects and files — all within the same high-performance engine.
Experfy (Cool Vendors in Data Science and Machine Learning) pioneers an alternative method of employing data science talent by addressing the problem of finding top-notch skills via a marketplace for highly accomplished data science experts.
CrowdFlower (Cool Vendors in Information Innovation and Governance) is a crowdsourcing platform with the focus on data. It helps to improve data quality, including labeling and annotating data for machine learning, when the subjective nuances require human perception.
Predii (Cool Vendors in Internet of Things Analytics) specializes on equipment breakdown diagnostics, and then it goes further to find and provide the most-relevant and targeted repair instructions. Predii technology uses domain-specific knowledge through the combination of graph and AI.
Deepgram (Cool Vendors in AI Core Technologies) is an AI-based speech recognition, keyword search and classification engine for audio and video. Deepgram also created the open source framework — Kur — running on TensorFlow, to design, train and evaluate deep-learning models without needing to code.
Skymind (Cool Vendors in Data Science and Machine Learning) offers Java-based deep-learning capabilities that can natively leverage Hadoop and Spark using one of the few commercially available open-source deep-learning frameworks: Deeplearning4j.
Cortical.io (Cool Vendors in AI Core Technologies) Cortical.io implements an NLP approach rooted in neuroscience. It converts text into binary representations, which allows Cortical.io to perform calculations on text to compare and relate different texts within a vast generic or customized body of knowledge.
FogHorn Systems (Cool Vendors in IoT Edge Computing) is cool because of its extremely low overhead in embedding real-time analytics and machine-learning capabilities in edge devices as part of edge computing — the extension of cloud computing capabilities to the edge of the network.
Arcadia Data (Cool Vendors in Internet of Things Analytics) provides modern business intelligence and analytics tools that are optimized for big data. It provides fast visual analytics and data applications, and excels when IoT data comes at a very high speed and scale.
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