Feature: The Eighth Annual Editors' Choice Awards
Join us for our annual take on 'The Dozen' most
influential vendors driving the intelligent enterprise.
Plus, we also laud 48 'Companies to Watch' in categories
including business intelligence and enterprise
By David Stodder
the proverbs: We know we live in interesting times.
Ambitious business goals demand the best information
technology can offer. For the IT community to achieve
that, business users must become IT's favored customers
and collaborators. A chasm must be crossed, and there's
no going back.
Led by the most innovative and influential in BI,
service orientation and BPM--companies spotlighted in
this year's Editors' Choice Awards--we're finally seeing
tools and solutions to support business/IT collaboration.
Or, put differently, the technology will only work if
business and IT come together.
We present our eighth annual list of 60 companies in
two groups. First, there's the Dozen: twelve elite
vendors that are providing critical leadership for
organizations focused on becoming
"intelligent" enterprises. Then we present the
2006 Companies to Watch, 48 top providers in our six
primary coverage areas.
The choices are the product of a year's worth of
editorial research, reviews and conversations with the
IE community of readers and contributing experts, boiled
down into who and what will be important as we look
ahead. Which vendors should be on the list next year?
Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.
BEA has long had to navigate tricky waters: around
bigger competitors, through the fog of acquisition
rumors and management changes (with founder Alfred
Chuang as one constant) and across the void from one
software paradigm to another. Yet the company's identity
has always rested on a vision of open, standards-based
distributed computing. BEA's WebLogic and AquaLogic
products regularly rank tops in reviews. Having
initially prospered with e-business and J2EE application
server-based systems, the company is now effectively
leading its customer base into SOA (service-oriented
To make SOA reach its promise, BEA has had to
cultivate a new customer base: business analysts and
managers. With two acquisitions--Plumtree for portals
and Fuego for BPM (business process management)--BEA
uniquely serves both sides of the equation. BEA is in a
prime position to align SOA-based business processes
with the user's portal environment.
As long as Oracle can persuade Peoplesoft, Siebel and
other acquired customers not to jump ship, the company
is in a good position. Oracle's DBMS remains the
data-thumping heart for the majority of enterprise
applications; even CRM competitor Salesforce.com has
standardized on Oracle. And after all those acquisitions,
the company's portfolio has never been wider or
vertically deeper. However, this also means that Oracle
has a lot more customers to satisfy. Oracle has wisely
discarded most of its "bad boy" image and,
leading with president Charles Phillips, replaced it
with more openness and clarity.
Oracle's Fusion challenge is to build value atop of
its platforms so they don't devolve into legacies. This
has Oracle putting maximum attention on BI, performance
management, process management, search and analytic
applications, and fleshing out its offerings with things
like SOA management, e-billing and spatial information
management. Customers seem confident that Oracle's
captains are on the right course.
"In the past, we managed and modeled information at
rest in repositories," says Ambuj Goyal, IBM's
general manager of Information Management Software.
"Now, we are delivering information in motion."
In a nutshell, that's the challenge IBM's bedrock
customers face: The world has gone distributed, and they
have to turn their oceanliners laden with decades of
critical IT investments in the right direction. Software
dreams are cheap; CIOs and IT architects with long
experience in trying to solve distributed computing
problems need to see what SOA can deliver when the
Where is information most in motion? In business
processes: With WebSphere BPM, IBM has stepped ahead of
other platform vendors in enabling its customers to
understand and manage the entire process lifecycle.
Through process understanding, IBM brings SOA into focus.
The business context also guides how IBM brings its
database and information integration strength to bear
for "information on demand," wherever that may
Division of NCR
"Data warehouse" may no longer be the best way
to describe what Teradata customers are doing with their
repositories of increasingly detailed data. The stuff
doesn't sit around; companies such as Harrah's
Entertainment and Continental Airlines employ Teradata's
"active" data warehousing to immediately
improve customer experiences. Rival technologies and
vendors try, but it's tough to dislodge the enterprise
data warehouse as the best way to deliver a single,
consistent source of "the truth" to support
all user's data views. Teradata itself isn't sitting
still. As its February acquisition of SeeCommerce for
supply chain analytics showed, the company is determined
to bring data riches to more vertical lines of business.
To SAS, being information-driven has never been a
trivial matter. If you're going to replace gut feel with
decision-making powered by assembling, accessing and
analyzing data, you better be serious. It comes as no
surprise that the toolset widely regarded as the leader
for soup-to-nuts data mining is SAS Enterprise Miner.
But for nearly all its 30 years, the expertise SAS put
in to developing analytical tools and packages has
generally required a similar level of expertise to gain
full advantage from them.
Now, high-powered computing has hit the mainstream.
Market demand for BI and analytics tailored to
nontechnical users has challenged SAS to change gears.
By most accounts, SAS 9 Enterprise Intelligence Platform
more than hits the mark. And through its Marketing
Automation and other analytic applications for vertical
operations and industries, SAS is gaining a serious
following among serious business users.
With Office, Microsoft has millions of business users
interacting with its applications every minute. Yet,
bringing up BI through each stage of SQL Server's
development, the company has taken its time crossing the
chasm from the developer environment to the world of the
business user. The acquisition of ProClarity is a big
leap across that chasm. And with Dynamics SL, Microsoft
is stepping up to meet customer interest in performance
management and preconfigured, role-based BI. The BI
sizzle will give users something to work with while
Microsoft takes the hard road and develops a single code
base for service-oriented Dynamics applications.
Jumping from an applications-centric world to service
orientation is tough, even--or perhaps especially--for a
company as established as Microsoft. However, showing
less fear about jeopardizing its desktop dominance,
Microsoft is displaying creative leadership for
customers trying to attain flexibility through SOA and
Deluged with data, corporate business users want BI
software to help them focus on what's important. In that
endeavor, Business Objects has done a good job.
Everybody loves BI these days, including the Microsofts
and Oracles, which are commonly expected to vacuum up
what remains of BI as an independent category. But, with
former Symantec president John Schwarz now at the helm
as CEO, Business Objects is staying focused--and
delivering its highest revenues ever.
Acquiring data quality vendor First Logic in February,
the company is expanding its enterprise information
management footprint. In BI itself, Business Objects is
racing competitors to capture the hearts and minds of
nontechnical users who haven't yet adopted BI. The
company's play is "Intelligent Question," and
it seems clear that the answer so far is, yes, BI is in
good hands with Business Objects.
EMC is transitioning relentlessly from being identified
only with storage to embracing the greater information
lifecycle. EMC is now more relevant to organizations
faced with intense and varied information access,
movement and management needs. Acquisitions are stoking
EMC's engine, primarily through David DeWalt's Software
Heading into the third year since it picked up
Documentum, EMC has seized the opportunity to become a
one-stop shop for content management. Last October, EMC
bought Captiva, a leading capture vendor, to go with
other moves to improve content access and integrate it
with records and process management. After its January
purchase of rights to grid information integration
software developed by Acxiom, EMC has something for
customers determined to exploit the intelligence
potential of distributed, heterogeneous sources. That's
good: Few companies these days can bear the thought of
information merely taking up space and costing money.
Events, services and processes: These are what
businesses want to build, monitor, understand-and
continuously improve. Unfortunately, first-generation
Web services did not bring organizations much closer to
dealing with such abstract concepts. They often made
things tougher by further burying developers in
spaghetti code. Through enterprise service bus (ESB),
process management, SOA and other new technology for
event stream processing, Progress Software and its
subsidiaries are enabling organizations to rise above
the chaos and respond to changing business conditions as
With an infusion of process modeling and features in
its 7.0 release to enable ESB to truly perform as a
critical, message-based transaction hub, Sonic Software
is once again setting the pace. Actional, a more recent
acquisition, brings SOA management into the portfolio.
And with Apama, Progress is capturing the attention of
financial services companies: that is, tech's leading
With System 9, Hyperion rolled out the fruits of its
2005 Razza Solutions acquisition: master data management
(MDM). It turns out that especially for financial
management applications--the primary focus of System
9--the lack of MDM is a hindrance for performance
management and BI reporting. MDM makes reference data
far more available and helps bring order to reporting
hierarchies. Hyperion's improved user interface went
beyond skin deep to offer easy integration among
Hyperion's own elements and with Microsoft Office. For
CFOs and other financial managers, Hyperion is setting
the standard for performance management. As a result,
customers have a smart way of bringing budgeting,
planning, forecasting and other financial operations
into the 21st century.
What happened, and what can I do about it? That's
essentially what users want their dashboards to tell
them about the behavior of operations in which they play
a role. BI based on conventional data is helpful, but
even more valuable are updates about the streams of
"events" that define what happens with
operations. Bringing to market brainy research into
in-memory, event-stream processing and business-rule
processing, Celequest has become the leading independent
in the fast-growing field of business activity
monitoring (BAM). Larger vendors, such as Adobe and BEA
are reselling technology from Celequest. The company is
also gaining favor for ease of use. Celequest Activity
Suite lets business users build operational performance
management dashboards themselves.
As BPM providers get gobbled up, the remaining
pure-plays have to be nimble. Savvion is doing just that
by offering its Business Process Modeling Notation
standard-based Process Modeler as a free download.
Savvion reports that more than 40,000 people have picked
up the offer, creating a network effect and making the
company something of a BPM Johnny Appleseed. With a
chance to perform simulations with the tool, downloaders
are discovering Savvion's potential for collaboratively
building executable business processes. Savvion's focus
is on getting customers from modeling to process
execution rapidly; BAM capabilities and features for
real-time response to exception conditions are there to
keep the improvement cycle--and Savvion's growth--on the
2006 Companies to Watch
* Information Builders.
IBI's biggest news of late is from its iWay Software
company, which introduced SOA Middleware and an ESB
offering in February. IBI itself continues to gain
plaudits for WebFocus. Bringing AJAX into play for BI
development has IBI on the cutting edge.
When the top two companies (that is, Autonomy and Verity)
in enterprise search merge, the new entity is bound to
carry weight. Autonomy was already strong in speech and
video search, both areas of growing interest.
Smart fraud detection can save you money. Discovering
and predicting customer preferences can help you make a
lot of money. SPSS tools and applications are highly
relevant for both objectives.
* Panorama Software.
After playing a critical role in getting Microsoft into
the BI/OLAP game, Panorama has its sights set on one of
BI's biggest challenges: easing SAP users' path to
timely business insight.
* Fair IsAAC.
Automating decisions through BRM (business rules
management) and predictive analytics, Fair Isaac makes
information riches actionable and sets the stage for
This fast-moving challenger remains a pioneer in hosted
analytics and leader in delivering a complete picture of
online marketing information. Recent acquisitions bulk
up its technology with search, e-mail campaign
management, streaming data analysis and visualization.
* Inxight software.
With its products resold widely, Inxight is a technology
leader for text analysis, extraction and visualization
in many languages. Inxight gets customers beyond the
data to understand behavior, attributes and
Technical merit keeps MicroStrategy on the shortlist for
big BI initiatives. Improved data access, user interface
and data mining services let MicroStrategy thrive
despite tough competition.
* Tableau Software.
How users actually see data has a profound effect on
BI's effectiveness, especially as dashboards grow in
popularity. Tableau's "Show Me" functionality
embeds best practices to guide users toward productive
Integrated with its Nimble EII (enterprise information
integration) technology, Actuate's BI/OLAP tools enjoy
wide access into heterogeneous data sources. Actuate's
embrace of Excel has won fans among spreadsheet jockeys.
The dream is to bring BI and search together. Endeca
lets customers live that dream through cross-tabulation
of search results and BI-style drill-down and
Queries and aggregations in memory, based on a highly
normalized relational database--that's how QlikTech
takes advantage of modern computing for analytic
applications. Predefined templates that target major
enterprise applications have QlikTech on the fast track.
Even in the midst of a technology overhaul and services
scale-up, WebTrends has lost none of its market presence.
Performance analysis and management of cross-channel
marketing are a big focus in the recent WebTrends
Marketing Lab and WebTrends 8 release.
* Lombardi software.
Effectively employing (and helping set) open standards,
Lombardi stands out for integrating performance
monitoring with process management.
technologies. This business rules engine
provider takes a model-driven approach that's managed
through an Excel-like interface--a key reason Corticon
is leading the way in giving control to business users.
This pure-play has effectively integrated content
management and analytics with BPM. And by easing
interaction with Microsoft Outlook, Appian makes user
interaction with processes that much easier.
With JRules, ILog is automating policies: a critical
job. The latest release supports and synchronizes the
rules management efforts of IT and business analysts.
* Software AG and
Fujitsu Software. These partners have
pooled their SOA, ESB and BPM products and expertise,
and combined worldwide footprint and scale make them a
global force in BPM.
Comfortable with its identity, Informatica looks like
the Switzerland of data integration. The acquisition of
Similarity Systems adds data quality to its portfolio.
PowerCenter 8 lays the groundwork for broader challenges
as customers move toward SOA.
One major BPM goal is pretty simple: Speed. TIBCO has
that in mind as it brings BPM and BAM together with SOA
and real-time data integration so customers win the
present and master the future.
As BI and performance management require pulling data
from more sources, master data management is going from
nice-to-have to necessary. Kalido gets it better than
* Composite Software.
Composite had a lot to do with putting EII on the map;
its technology is resold by larger providers, including
Informatica. Branching out into BAM, the company is
addressing more of the whys and wherefores of EII
W3C's Web Ontology Language (OWL) and Resource
Description Language (RDF) may soon be as important as
XML. Focusing on metadata and federated querying through
an inference engine, Cerebra makes semantic integration
Having started with EII, MetaMatrix is moving quickly to
"data service management," or what it takes to
enable superb heterogeneous data access within a SOAP or
SOA context. MetaMatrix Query puts it all in the hands
of Java developers.
* Siderean Software.
Navigator 4.0 can search it all--relational databases,
XML content, RSS. More important, Siderean can integrate
metadata from unstructured information and convert it to
W3C's RDF standard.
XIP can now map Web services to virtual relational
tables. That means BI and other SQL clients can consume
live Web services data that analysts can integrate with
traditional sources. SOA will make this very useful.
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.
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
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.
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
* 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.
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
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
Technologies. Offering a common database
and workflow platform to go with strong Web analytics,
RightNow is just in time for rising on-demand enterprise
* 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.
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.
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.
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.
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
* 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
© 2006 CMP Media LLC