* Cognos. Dashboard ease of use, essential for operational performance management, is far from easy to produce on the back end. Integrated authoring and publishing and unified server architecture give Cognos 8 an edge.
* Pilot software. To Pilot, performance management isn't about putting lipstick on a BI pig. PilotWorks 2006 displays a deep understanding of what really needs to happen.
* Arcplan. Plug it in and go: That's the goal with dynaSight analytic apps, which bring service-oriented, pre-built BI objects to operational business users managing performance. Customers applaud wide access to disparate sources.
* Applix. If done just like BI, performance management hits a scalability wall. Applix in-memory technology plus a thoughtful understanding of the challenges get customers over the wall.
* Extensity. In March, Golden Gate Capital acquired Geac and split off the performance management section into a company focused on financial applications. Stronger backing has Extensity hitting on all cylinders.
* Steelwedge Software. Elevating planning out of the silos and up to an enterprise level is a sure-fire way to improve performance, control and accountability. Focused on manufacturing, Steelwedge is an innovator.
* Edge Dynamics. "Demand-driven" is the mantra for supply chain and channel management. Focusing first on pharmaceuticals, Edge enables better visibility into orders and inventory so customers can stop leaking revenue.
* SAP AG. NetWeaver's ambitious scope may be "boiling SAP's ocean" but the results are compelling. Model-driven Visual Composer makes business processes and services more effective through embedded analytics.
* SAlesforce.com. Ready for more than CRM, Salesforce.com's Sandbox and AppExchange build out development and SOA integration in ways befitting a full-fledged enterprise-application platform vendor.
* WebMethods. The SOA dream is to enable easy assembly of services to support end-to-end business processes. Drawing on its EAI and WebMethods Fabric (ESB) products, WebMethods is among the few that can put it together.
* Fiorano Software. SOA is just hype if developers can't quickly and easily create components that touch multiple apps and data sources. Fiorano gets the job done.
* Cape Clear software. If Web services result in just another round of vendor lock-in, the effort will have fallen short. Cape Clear stands for keeping SOA and ESB open and no more expensive than necessary.
* Above All Software. Legendary entrepreneur Roger Sippl (Informix, Vantive, Visigenic) is leading the charge for organizations trying to create composite applications through a single interface.
* RightNow Technologies. Offering a common database and workflow platform to go with strong Web analytics, RightNow is just in time for rising on-demand enterprise CRM.
* Mark Logic. Offering a compelling way to search the "vast middle" of data that's neither highly structured nor completely unstructured, MarkLogic server makes good use of the emerging XQuery standard.
* Stellent. Embracing new forms of content, Stellent lets customers, integrate blogs, wikis and RSS feeds with Web directories, the Universal Content Management platform and records management apps.
* PlanView. IT performance management puts shoes on the cobbler's children: that is, data-driven metrics and scorecards to manage IT systems and applications like a business. PlanView is a top shoemaker.
* Hyperroll. Query performance remains a BI/OLAP sore spot. HyperRoll's aggregation engine puts the query pedal to the metal and enables data warehouse managers to avoid repetitive design and build steps.
* CA. With limited resources and ambitious goals, IT cannot afford chaos. CA's Clarity (formerly Niku) is leading the way toward IT governance-and less risk, more order and greater value.
* Adobe Systems. By stepping up to demand for end-to-end business processes and Web services, Adobe gives a big boost to rich Internet applications for users who want it all now.
* StreamBase systems. Complex event processing and streaming data analysis promise to revolutionize the use of real-time data for fraud detection, algorithmic trading and more. Headed by database pioneer Michael Stonebraker, StreamBase is at the forefront.
* Attensity: Large volumes of unstructured data become rows and columns for analysis with Attensity's Exhaustive Extraction engine. Companies can analyze and measure product complaints within customer call records among other previously difficult sources.