Intelligent Enterprise names 'The Dozen' most influential vendors in enterprise IT for 2009. Plus, we highlight 36 'Companies to Watch' in five categories.

Doug Henschen, Executive Editor, Enterprise Apps

January 12, 2009

20 Min Read

2009 Intelligent Enterprise Editor's choice

With all eyes on the economy, smart enterprises will have to make the most of technology to outmaneuver the competition and navigate the shoals of a challenging marketplace. The competition will be fierce, and it's more important than ever for companies to make the most of information and deliver timely insight, to quickly adapt applications and processes to changing conditions, and to maximize financial and operational performance.

Technology complacency is not an option if you expect to outsmart the competition; nor is this a time for heedless investment without specific goals for competitive advantage or return on investment. To guide you to vendors that have been leading the way in innovation and business optimization, we present our 10th Annual Intelligent Enterprise Editors' Choice Awards. We considered scores of companies that are helping organizations move toward the ideal expressed by our publication's name, Intelligent Enterprise. In our estimation, all 48 companies that made our Editors' Choice list are leaders, but a select group of 12 were named among "The Dozen" elite companies that will matter most to intelligent enterprises in 2009. We highlight 36 other vendors as "Companies to Watch" in five categories:

Business Intelligence
Business Process Management
Enterprise Applications
Information Management
Performance Management

As always, this year's Editors' Choice award nominations were a collaborative endeavor, with extensive input from a dozen Intelligent Enterprise contributors:

Rajan Chandras, integration expert and author
Cindi Howson, BI Scorecard
Seth Grimes, Alta Plana
Sandy Kemsley, Kemsley Design
Nelson King, software development expert and author
David Linthicum, data integration and Enterprise 2.0 expert
Mark Madsen, Third Nature
Curt Monash, Monash Research
Alan Pelz-Sharpe, CMS Watch
Mark Smith, Ventana Research
David Stodder, Ventana Research Fellow and information management expert
Kas Thomas, enterprise architecture and software expert

We are grateful for the input and analysis provided by these experts. However, Intelligent EnterpriseEditor-in-Chief Doug Henschen was responsible for the final selection of "The Dozen" and "Companies to Watch." We encourage practitioners and independent experts to share their comments in our discussion forum (below), while those representing or otherwise tied to individual vendors should send comments to [email protected].

2009 Intelligent Enterprise Editor's choice: The Dozen


ADOBE. When it comes to rich Internet applications (RIA), Adobe has a formidable line-up: world-class graphical content creation tools (Photoshop, Illustrator, Flash Professional), the ubiquitous Flash Player for running client RIA programs, and the somewhat lesser-known Flex and Adobe (AIR) for application developers. Adobe's enterprise software products aren't as well known, but the LiveCycle Enterprise Suite is a leading business process management suite that gained content management capabilities in 2008. The workgroup collaboration story tucked away in Bridge and Version Cue will also bear fruit beyond the graphics context. Before the dust settles, we'll see Adobe pull pieces together and become a heavier hitter in enterprise software.

AMAZON. Amazon is writing (and then selling) the book on "infrastructure as a service" with Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2), Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3) and Amazon SimpleDB, among other services. With its experience in scaling online retailing, Amazon understands the inherent challenges in scaling enterprise systems. What's more, it has the brains and the bucks to address the business continuity and security concerns facing cloud computing. While other vendors talk and make announcements, Amazon is making cloud computing a reality.

IBM. BI, business process management, content management, event processing, relational database, in-memory database, information integration, mashup technologies, master data management, enterprise search – you name it, and IBM undoubtedly has it in the most comprehensive information management portfolio in the business. The company also has the vision to bring all the pieces together. Cognos was a particularly nice, overlap-free fit for the company, and in 2008 IBM added Business Viewpoint for flexible dimension management in BI, OLAP, analytic and master data management activities. IBM has stayed maniacally focused on helping companies to build a "trusted information layer." What's more, it adds technologies whenever they emerge as important differentiators.

MICROSOFT. There seemed to be lots of distractions up on the bridge in 2008 (Vista, Yahoo! and so on). But like a super tanker in motion, Microsoft has momentum that carries it forward in important areas of the enterprise. SQL Server, SharePoint and Performance Point, to name a few products, are still winning market share. Loyal developers and Microsoft shops have held steady even as executives ponder the next course. If Microsoft follows its usual pattern, it will deliver a fresh wave of products in the coming year, and the company will make additional inroads into the enterprise. In the BI arena, look for beta in-memory technology and glimpses of scale-out database technology by year end.

MICROSTRATEGY. Much to its credit, BI vendor MicroStrategy has resisted the temptation to be a "me-too" on analytics and performance management. Instead this independent has focused on delivering world-class BI with state-of-the-art dynamic dashboards. The MicroStrategy 9 release set for Q1 2009 adds in-memory analysis to speed queries and reduce data-prep dependency on IT. And a new multi-source engine opens up data access while supporting flexible modeling as BI spreads from workgroup to enterprisewide deployments. In short, MicroStrategy will set new standards in the BI market in 2009.

NETEZZA. Now that Oracle has introduced its HP Oracle Database Machine and Microsoft has committed to a scale-out compatible version of SQL Server by 2010, it's not a good time to be a startup data warehouse appliance vendor. But Netezza is no longer a startup; nor is it resting on past accomplishments. With its triple-digit and still-growing customer base, Netezza is plowing money back into R&D and developing a compelling story around in-database processing with help partners in the Netezza Developer Network. The vendor's on-stream programmability enabled one customer with whom we spoke to cut three- to four-week data mart build times down to four to eight hours. That's the kind of dramatic difference that will keep Netezza on the data warehousing short list.

ORACLE. Solid from a financial perspective and still at the center of the database universe, Oracle has also made a lot of good moves. For one it has responded forcefully (with partner HP) to the data warehouse scalability challenge with a new line of appliances. BI initiatives are paying off, too: With control over the database and applications in many accounts, lots of customers are buying the performance management and analytic applications that rely on Oracle Business Intelligence Suite Enterprise Edition. Oracle has also beefed up the Oracle Universal Content Management line, and its Oracle Secure Enterprise Search product is poised to shake things up in the enterprise-search market. If there's any chink in the armor it's Oracle Fusion Applications, which are late. But better to get it right late than to stumble when the market has little appetite for upgrades.

SALESFORCE.COM. Clearly the standard setter in the world of software as a service (SaaS), continues to refine its core offering, providing points of integration to sync information back into the enterprise and a user interface that non-technical types love. The company also has innovated with its "platform as a service," making it simpler for customers and partners to deliver all kinds of enterprise apps. In short, will continue to define how SaaS and the larger cloud computing market evolve.

SAP. This vendor now has the market-leading position in both enterprise applications and business intelligence. SAP customers are loyal, and more than 500 are said to have replaced incumbent BI vendors with SAP Business Objects. Performance management and process management are high-priority strategic thrusts for SAP, and customer demand for better cash management and process efficiency will help the company weather a down economy. The potential for SAP's emerging NetWeaver Business Process Management story is not well recognized, but promised integrations with SAP ERP are likely to make it the only logical choice for existing customers looking to optimize business processes.

SAS. The quiet giant of business intelligence, SAS continues to lead with its segment-dominating analytics tools and myriad prebuilt applications. Last year, SAS made the sensible decision to spin off data integration talent and initiatives to its DataFlux subsidiary, which is now better positioned to innovate in the areas of data quality, data integration and master data management while SAS concentrates on BI and analytics. In the latter area, SAS has partnered with Teradata to push complex analytic processing into the database for greater scalability and faster results. It's that kind of innovation that will keep SAS at the head of the pack.

TIBCO. This company serves a vital role in that it offers strong alternatives in lots of categories that would otherwise be dominated (and no doubt monopolized) by the giants. TIBCO offers the unique-among-independents combination of business activity monitoring, SOA/integration infrastructure, business process management, event processing, master data management and other technologies. The latest addition (through acquisition) is BI visualization via Spotfire, which remains a leader in real-time analytics. In a vendor landscape that has drastically consolidated, TIBCO remains a rare, strong independent survivor.

TERADATA. This stalwart remains the leader in large-scale data warehousing, but it has shown new flexibility and aggressiveness in a changing market. Teradata has kept its enterprise data warehousing (EDW) ideology in check as it has introduced a gradation of platforms from appliance to data mart to EDW. It has also improved the core database and partnered with independents such as SAS, MicroStrategy and Informatica while remaining close to its loyal, innovative customers. It's a focused company that has only benefitted from intensified competition.

2009 Intelligent Enterprise Editor's choice: Companies to Watch


Actuate. This vendor made lots of good moves with its recent Actuate 10 release, adding an Ajax-based viewing environment, JavaScript APIs for developers, and Flash-based widgets and gadgets. What's more, Actuate 10 makes the most of the open-source Eclipse BIRT project. Actuate is poised to take advantage of growing interest in open-source BI alternatives.

Attensity. This firm's on-premise and SaaS-based offerings help companies read the "voice of the customer" buried in surveys, e-mail messages, call center exchanges, Web forum comments, blogs posts and other high-volume interactions. Attensity provides an automated way to understand customer intent and expectations to improve customer satisfaction, reduce churn and anticipate market shifts.

Clarabridge. Another text-mining leader, Clarabridge is focused on voice-of-the-customer/voice-of-the-market analysis. In one of our favorite case studies of 2008, Gaylord Entertainment described its use of Clarabridge software to analyze and understand Web-based hotel guest surveys within hours so it can quickly take action to improve services and win back guests who had complaints. It's cutting-edge technology with a real ROI story.

Information Builders. While other BI vendors simply partnered with SPSS to add analytics, Information Builders shrewdly chose to build on top of the popular open-source R programming language. The move promises to pay dividends in 2009 and beyond. Meanwhile, the company's proven products include scalable and affordable alternatives such as its under-rated WebFocus Active Reports technology, which binds data and interactive viewing into a single, cross-platform file format.

Inforsense. Treating BI as a process, InforSense provides an intuitive, workflow-based environment for predictive analytics and visual-analysis. Data integration and collaboration features are built in, and a repository lets you capture and share proven approaches. It's also services-based, so you can build composite analytic apps and deliver predictive services. Pharma and biotech firms are among those taking advantage of repeatable and auditable analytic processes.

Pentaho. Open-source BI is gaining traction, and Pentaho seems to have the most momentum. With projects including Mondrian OLAP, Pentaho Reporting Engine, Kettle ETL, Weka data mining and the core eponymous BI Suite, Pentaho has all the key BI components covered. It's a well-managed company with a solid technology base.

SPSS. Every BI vendor now wants to compete on analytics, it seems, so SPSS is the partner of choice for SAP Business Objects, IBM Cognos and others. That speaks volumes about the depth, breadth, affordability and market acceptance of SPSS analytics and data mining products.

2009 Intelligent Enterprise Editor's choice: Companies to Watch


Lombardi Software. Business process management systems knit together the people and systems involved in end-to-end processes. Lombardi Teamworks shines in both styles of integration, but human-centric-workflow and event and exception management are its strong suits. Lombardi always seems to be on our short list for BPM.

Pegasystems. Now that rules vendors ILog and Haley have been acquired (by IBM and Oracle, respectively), Pegasystems' offering of both business rules and business process management technology stands in even sharper contrast to other BPM independents. Customers can count on the company to be impartial when it comes to advocating the best approach. Pegasystems is also innovating with a "platform-as-a-service" option that lets IT offer independent BPMS instances for individual internal projects, speeding development while recognizing the desire for autonomy.

Software AG. Some now say SOA is dead, but services-oriented integration and business process management – the killer app for SOA – will survive come what may. With strengths in integration, BPM and services infrastructure, Software AG has a strong portfolio and an equally strong, global base of customers. In a market destined for consolidation, this vendor will be there.

Vitria. By combining event management with real-time analytics, Vitria has expanded on its integration roots and is pioneering the area of process intelligence. The M3O Suite introduced last year gives business users a slick, iPhone-like interface through which they can intuitively model, manage, monitor and optimize processes without help from IT. The recently added Operations Book module offers continuous analysis of business conditions and events in the context of historical data.

2009 Intelligent Enterprise Editor's choice: Companies to Watch


Google. Last year we ranked Google among "The Dozen" most influential companies in enterprise IT, saying "it casts a shadow far out of proportion to its actual footprint in the enterprise." The question is, will Google always be an influencer rather than an actual presence within large organizations? Sure, Google Search Appliance, Google Apps, Google Gears and Google Android will all make marks, but the last three were invented primarily to serve the broad consumer market. Given Google's might, we'll keep watching for more dedicated enterprise efforts.

Infor. Not to be left behind in the battle between Oracle and SAP, Infor has continued to advance its applications and architecture. Users can customize the rich, dynamic MyDay interface (introduced last year as a standard feature) to support more than 150 roles, keeping job-relevant tasks and alerts in view. Look for Infor's entry into SaaS this year.

InterSystems. We won't get to pervasive business intelligence through conventional BI interfaces. The idea behind InterSystems' DeepSee is delivering embedded real-time BI inside transactional applications. Developers embed prebuilt graphs, charts, reports and dashboards directly within applications. As a result, users see current operational data within a familiar interface so they can make better decisions and change workflows and business rules to optimize performance.

JackBe. Now more than ever, agile companies will carry the day. JackBe is all about being nimble, with component-based Web development tooling including a server, composer and connectors designed to quickly bring secure and reliable mashup applications to the enterprise.

SugarCRM. Launched as an open-source project in 2004, SugarCRM has been downloaded more than four million times. Well-supported Professional and Enterprise editions build on the Sugar Community Edition, which boasts a strong developer community. Commercial derivatives include SaaS and even an appliance-based (Sugar Cube) offering. Sugar sweetens the deal with third-party data integration and Web 2.0-style social networking features.

Workday. Conventional ERP vendors are dragging their feet and giving grudging lip service to software as a service. Meanwhile, Workday is forging ahead with an ever-richer suite of resource planning and resource management functionality. The latest upgrades include HR management tools that help managers evaluate staff costs and business expenses. A new Pay for Performance feature helps managers set employee and team goals and drive desired results with tailored compensation programs.

2009 Intelligent Enterprise Editor's choice: Companies to Watch


Autonomy. This leading player has gone well beyond a robust, cross-media enterprise search platform to address records management, e-mail archiving, e-Discovery and even process management. In short, Autonomy is putting search into broader business contexts.

Calais. This natural-language-processing Web service automatically tags huge volumes of content within seconds, adding metadata for people, places, organizations, facts and events so publishers can make archives searchable, improve tagging consistency and aggregate and deliver new information products and services. The API is easily integrated/mashed and the Open Calais Web Service will apply tags to up to 40,000 documents per day at no charge.

Coral8. Blending business intelligence with its complex event processing technology, Coral 8 introduced an upgraded product suite in 2008 that monitors streaming information – market data, trade data, clickstream data, point-of-sale data and so on – as well as the reference data typical of data warehouses. The approach improves how users view and understand real-time actions by adding the context of historical patterns.

EnterpriseDB. In a tough economy, open-source database players will find the crack in the market door opening wider. MySQL may be ensconced in the LAMP stack, but no player is doing more to boost enterprise acceptability than EnterpriseDB, offering support and strong contributions around PostgreSQL.

Greenplum. With Oracle and Microsoft joining the data warehouse appliance crowd in '08, competition will surely narrow. Greenplum has the advantage of a good head start and petabyte-scale systems to its credit. It's also still innovating, most notably with its drive to employ the performance-enhancing MapReduce approach.

HP. This giant seemed to be in a BI holding pattern for much of 2008, but then, it did have the considerable distraction of the EDS acquisition. It's clear that BI and data warehousing are pet projects for HP CEO (and Teradata veteran) Mark Hurd, as evidenced by his putting a former Teradata protégé in charge late last year. We expect more action on this front in 2009.

Informatica. An independent that has held its own in the face of fierce competition from IBM and Oracle, Informatica has continued to innovate with its push into real-time data services and data integration for cloud computing options including SaaS. Look for more forays into operational data integration outside of the context of BI.

Initiate Systems. Garbage in, garbage out. This old maxim is behind the steady adoption of master data management (MDM) systems that ensure consistent and reliable data. Initiate Systems is an MDM leader, and its strong customer base in health care and insurance should ensure continued innovation as the company branches into the high-tech, manufacturing and retail markets.

Interwoven. This company unraveled in the wake of the dot-com bust, but a new team has stitched everything back together over the last two years. By staying focused on two core markets: large-scale Web content management, and document management and compliance for legal and professional firms, Interwoven has been pleasing customers and profiting. The lesson? Stick to your knitting!

Kalido. The only thing you can count on in business is change, so Kalido has done well as a pioneer of flexible modeling with its Kalido Information Engine. In 2008, Kalido took another step beyond static approaches to data warehouse development with the Business Information Modeler, a tool that lets analysts sit down with business constituents to discuss information delivery (and changes thereto) in visual terms they can easily understand.

Nuxeo. Already the leading open-source enterprise content management vendor in Europe, Nuxeo now has its sights set on the big US market. Expect to see its fast growth, strong community support and steady pace of innovation continue.

Siperian. Master data management is steadily gaining traction as a must-have technology. Siperian is an MDM leader, setting the standards for data acquisition, cleansing and deduplication, in addition to management of data relationships, hierarchies, models and reference data. What's more, the company is breaking into new markets including manufacturing and retail.

Sybase. Column-store databases offer clear performance advantages over relational databases in analytic applications, and SybaseIQ is the incumbent with more than 1,000 customers. The company responded to upstart competitors last year with an IQ-based appliance and a real-time loading solution for low-latency reporting and decision support.

Talend. An open source alternative seems to exist for every enterprise software niche. In the data integration and ETL space, the leader is Talend. Solid tools and plentiful connectors are complemented by an extensive list of BI and data warehousing partners.

Vertica. Vertica has opened many eyes to the advantages of column-store databases, and it has been an aggressive innovator in releasing appliance- and cloud-based options. With its advanced compression technology and visionary leadership, this company is making waves.

2009 Intelligent Enterprise Editor's choice: Companies to Watch


Kinaxis. Software as a service shines when collaboration crosses geographies and organizational boundaries. Kinaxis provides a SaaS-based performance management application that helps companies improves sales and operations planning as well as supply chain visibility.

Quantrix. Business plans and assumptions are changing quickly these days, and nine times out of 10 the big decisions are made in spreadsheets. Trouble is, Excel is better at analyzing history than exploring many possible futures. Quantrix provides an in-memory planning and modeling alternative that lets users change assumptions and choose from among myriad business scenarios.

RiverLogic. Enterprises must be able to understand the interdependencies between operational and financial performance. RiverLogic's Enterprise Optimizer models the links between, say, supply chain processes and related financial performance to help enterprises comprehend current and potential performance.

Varicent. Salespeople are the spark plugs of business. But if their efforts aren't aligned with corporate strategy and if they can't adapt to changing conditions, your company is sure to head in the wrong direction. Varicent provides on-premise and SaaS-based alternatives for modeling, analyzing and quickly adapting compensation plans as sales trends and markets fluctuate. It's sales performance management that serves finance, human resources, and top executives as well as sales managers.

About the Author(s)

Doug Henschen

Executive Editor, Enterprise Apps

Doug Henschen is Executive Editor of InformationWeek, where he covers the intersection of enterprise applications with information management, business intelligence, big data and analytics. He previously served as editor in chief of Intelligent Enterprise, editor in chief of Transform Magazine, and Executive Editor at DM News. He has covered IT and data-driven marketing for more than 15 years.

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