Infor hasn't had a high profile in the industry but has steadily been winning clients and now has 70,000 customers for its various ERP, HCM, PLM, and other top-line enterprise applications. Now it is delivering these not only in the cloud, but has announced industry-specific applications for a wide-range of industries. Customizing enterprise applications to meet industry-specific needs has always driven the cost of IT up, but often locked companies into old versions of software, as they were unwilling to pay for extensive customization every time major changes were made to products. Infor's approach won't solve all upgrade customization issues, but could go a long way towards it for many organizations. Industry-specific support will include Automotive, Equipment, Aerospace & Defense, Hospitality, and Healthcare.
The only hardware company in this list, MakerBot has brought the sensibility and practicality of 3D printing to the consumer world. With an outlet in Manhattan very much like the Apple Store, MakerBot is one of the industry leaders and perhaps the one that provides the most accessible take on the technology. The industry is still very immature despite several dozen acquisitions in the industry in the last few years, but it's growing in leaps and bounds.
Not an enterprise product you say? Well, I say that the arrival of MakerBot is the canary in the coal mine that shows how traditional manufacturing will ultimately be upended. Companies need long-term planning to plan out and determine how to incorporate on-demand manufacturing in their own operations as well as how they deliver products to market through such devices, something that will take a half-decade or more to sort out for most firms.
In any case, one thing is for sure, a growing number of business and household items will be customized and printed on the spot in the near future, and Makerbot is the clearest posterchild for the industry, despite literally hundreds of competitors getting into the space in the last several years.
Positioned as the leading challenger in Gartner's latest Magic Quadrant for business intelligence, Birst has been on a roll lately. As it has evolved and refined its offering in the last year, it's now threatening the top players in the space. Birst uses a cloud approach to BI that takes enterprise data from many sources and provides easy to use tools that create an integrated picture and make it understandable. It is particularly adept at managing highly fragmented data sources while keeping service delivery costs manageable.
Long the market leader in cloud CRM, it was clear that the workhorse and flagship of the company was getting a little long in the tooth. Meet the new Salesforce1, which unifies channel, platforms, data, and applications into a simpler and more modern package. Salesforce1 has a make-or-break year in 2014 in the face of stiff competition, but has potential to keep Salesforce in the lead by offering a potential path to the future that most are only talking about in this space yet, such as the Internet of Things, while offering best-in-class capabilities around clamored-for features like mobile apps.
New Relic makes leading application performance management software that helps companies make sense of their increasingly complex portfolios of software. New Relic's offerings include code-level management and montoring of applications, including mobile devices. Rumor has it that New Relic is likely to IPO soon as it capitalizes on the growing interest in practice of devops.
Marketing automation firm Hubspot has been hot for a while, but it's likely 2014 will be a breakout year for the maker of tools that make life much easier for marketers. What makes Hubspot special? Outstanding customer service combined with a rich set of easy-to-use features. Hubspot was named #1 in customer satisfaction in their segment recently.
While SAP's Hana platform has been around for a while now, it's still very much in traction mode. However, this year is the year it has the most potential yet to breakout and change the game (meaning, taking share away from Oracle in particular) in terms of class-leading performance and capabilities at the high-end of business applications and analytics.
Related: SAP loads BW onto HANA bandwagon
While they've actually been around a long while, Puppet Labs has recently hit the big time with significant investments from VMWare and major partnerships with companies like Dell. Long a developer favorite, Puppet Labs products are based on an open source core. Puppet Labs allows companies to rapid make changes to applications, systems, and devices either in the cloud or on-premise, making operations more agile, consistent, and cost-effective while also supporting devops processes.
AlienVault is a computer security company that uses the power of community participation to track malware. Its innovative Open Threat Exchange Platform crowdsources the discovery of new threats from security experts. It recently closed another major round of funding for growth, and its strength is in the company's wide range of cutting-edge yet well-integrated security offerings under it's Unified Security Management (USM) umbrella.
With 35% of the Global 500 using MuleSoft to connect their systems, they are the biggest cloud integration services company you've probably never heard of. Recently named a leader in Gartner's Magic Quadrant for IaaS, MuleSoft has helped bring back the lightweight integration solutions industry with their integration platform as a service, CloudHub. Biggest challenge: Their competitors are some of the biggest names in enterprise software.
Like Cloudera, Hortonworks is a competitor in the massive-scale data processing space. Relatively late to the industry, the company has neverthless managed to capitalize on huge growth in the white hot big data space. The company has momentum and just raised $100 million to fund growth.
Of late, Oracle has been on a streak of acquiring companies that provide customer engagement in the cloud. Having most recently purchased Responsys, a maker of business-to-consumer marketing software, it is pairing it with technologies gained through the acquisitions of firms such as Eloqua and Compendium and rolling them all into Oracle Customer Experience Cloud. This has become an intergalactic collection of market-connected SaaS business apps that has the potential to nearly surround the cloud marketing segment, as long as Oracle keeps the applications usable (a critical factor in today's consumerized IT world), well-integrated, and addresses concerns about lock-in.
Founded in 2007, Zendesk's slow but steady rise to prominance recently culminated in the announcement this month they will IPO. Zendesk provides a solution for customer care and self-service in the cloud, including customer engagement and analytics capabilities. With 40,000 customers, they have become a go-to service that is about to go mainstream. For a comparison of how hot this space is, competitor's ServiceNow's IPO was one of the more successful tech offerings in recent years. Zendesk continues to improve the platform and make the product easier to use, recently adding Zopim into their service mix to provide live chat with customers.