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Readers' Choice Awards

Value, reliability and broad applicability. These are the hallmarks of our subscribers' annual pick of preferred vendors. Check out the winners and runners-up in 37 categories.

The results are in. Each year we invite our subscribers to select their preferred vendors in a range of technology categories. Hundreds of readers voted through a secure Web ballot that ensured one vote per subscriber in each of 37 categories. Many of the votes were very close, so in the spirit of competition, this year we list the runners-up as well as the winners.

Once again, industry giants Microsoft and IBM racked up the most awards, topping the voting with nine and eight awards each, respectively--a testament to their broad portfolios. Oracle followed close behind, with the PeopleSoft and Siebel acquisitions helping to boost its award count to five (up from four last year). That left 16 awards, slightly fewer than half, in the hands of pure-play vendors.

The Numbers

68.1%
Greatest Percentage of Votes in a Category
Google
(Search, Taxonomies and Categorization)

9
Most Category Wins (tie)

IBM
Microsoft

87%
Highest Customer Satisfaction Score (tie)

SAS (Web/Clickstream Analytics)
Salesforce.com (Customer Relationship Management)

Business intelligence, for one, continues to be led by independent suppliers, with Business Objects taking top honors and Cognos in the runner-up spot. However, Microsoft's ProClarity was right up there, so we expect an even tighter race in next year's balloting.

Several outcomes were no big surprise, such as Google's huge margin in the Search category, but others honestly left us scratching our heads. Microsoft as Best Performance Management Suite vendor? OK, the company did make big announcements about PerformancePoint in 2006, but the beta wasn't even released until a few weeks ago. But with its Office tools, SQL Server Reporting and Analysis Services, not to mention the Business Solutions apps, you could argue that Microsoft already had tools used for performance management.

We suspect some readers were thinking like U.S. voters, treating technology like a two-party race (and perhaps there's the influence of the vast Microsoft and IBM channel communities). In an example from the Big Blue states, readers voted IBM as the Best Data Visualization Software vendor. IBM's Data Explorer is a legitimate visualization tool, but probably Best known in research circles. We would have expected this year's runner-up, Visual Insights, and last year's winner, Tableau, to have fought it out for the top spot. Instead, it looks like Data Explorer may have ridden Big Blue's long coattails to an unexpected victory.

In a few cases, your votes ran counter to the Gartner Magic Quadrant and Forester Wave Report favorites, yet we understand the selections. Microsoft, for example, was voted Best BPM (business process management) vendor, yet the company isn't even listed in the same Gartner Quadrant with most other BPM suites. Microsoft's BizTalk has shown up in Quadrants for integration servers, application platforms and B2B gateways over the years, but there's no denying that it's helping more readers improve business processes than many of the pure-play BPM suites combined. Meanwhile, IBM's BPM suite is in the same Quadrant with the pure-play BPM vendors, but it's not yet in the all-important top-right corner. Nonetheless, IBM's suite was the runner-up in BPM, and that's not counting the many votes for FileNet, which was recently acquired by Big Blue.

Our readers have been consistent in their voting, giving many suppliers wins for the second or third year in a row. SAS, for example, was voted Best Data Mining Toolset vendor for the third consecutive year, and Oracle reached the same milestone in the Best Customer Data Integration Software category. Fair Isaac and Adobe were honored for the second year in the Best Business Rules Engine and Best XML Authoring, Managing and Publishing Application categories, respectively.

Readers are the Best judge of what works for them, but as we've uncovered in previous surveys, most voters haven't used or evaluated more than one product in the past two years. In other words, readers aren't necessarily up on emerging products and the latest-and-greatest features unless they happen to be in a periodic product evaluation cycle. Nonetheless, readers aren't about to vote for products that have been disappointing. In that sense, our Readers' Choice Awards are an indication of products that have delivered good value to the broadest spectrum of users.

Continue to next page for complete list of winners.

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