Gartner Highlights 2011 'Cool Vendors' That Are Delivering Technologies and Services to Improve Business Outcomes

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Delivering and consuming services to improve business outcomes is the new driver of "coolness" for the 2011 Cool Vendors research series, according to Gartner, Inc. Innovative technologies, the ongoing consumerisation of IT, and cloud computing also continue to characterise vendor coolness.

This year, Gartner has published 65 Cool Vendors reports profiling nearly 300 vendors that offer innovative products and services relating to business process management (or something that clearly deals with business outcome), data, cloud services brokerage, people-centred computing, software infrastructure, security, risk management, applications, consulting, outsourcing, green IT and telecom operations management, as well as other markets. Additionally, Cool Vendors reports profile pioneering vendors that have the potential to alter competitive dynamics in key industries, such as automotive, consumer goods, energy and utilities, healthcare, life sciences, media and retail.

Gartner defines cool vendors as small vendors that are offering innovative products or services. The innovation may be in how the product works or in what can be accomplished by those using the product or service. These products are innovative (they enable users to do things they couldn't do before); impactful (they have, or will have a business impact); and intriguing (they have caught Gartner's interest or curiosity during the past six months or so).

"Coolness in 2011 often involves delivering and consuming services, resulting in stronger business outcomes. The increased focus on service delivery and consumption is part of a consumer-driven desire for technology to take a back seat in favour of good services that drive business results," said Daryl Plummer, managing vice president and Gartner Fellow. "This behaviour is a continuation of trends we outlined in the 2010 Cool Vendors reports - namely a focus on enabling people to deliver better business results through consumption of both services and technology."

Gartner analysts said that Cool Vendors are also delivering many very cool technologies that enhance interaction, collaboration and insight in 2011, including touchscreen interfaces, social software and context-aware computing, process intelligence, and social business process management (BPM).

"These technologies and many more are making a cool contribution to empowering business users who consume technology," said Michele Cantara, research vice president at Gartner. "They also make collaboration more transparent and help businesses learn from, or make sense of interactions within their organisation, with their partners and suppliers, as well as with consumers. As a result, businesses can more readily act on those insights. Technology plays an important role by providing the capabilities that allow information to be linked, shared, quality assured and appropriately governed."

The continued emergence of cloud computing highlights a number of new cloud entrants with niche offerings that take a tiny chunk out of existing outsourcing or IT service contracts. Gartner's research indicates a continued movement toward the cloud style of sourcing as contracting and intermediation become more critical in successful cloud interactions.

"Service delivery will be one of the most critical factors in determining how effectively consumers gain value from the use of technologies," Mr Plummer said. "The smart investor or technology user will seek out companies that drive the support of that change."

"No longer can we spend time only just looking at the interactions within our businesses. Taking an 'outside-in' approach to the work of the organisation (its business processes) is critical," Ms Cantara said. "These Cool Vendors point to a future in which organisations need to manage and take advantage of collaborative unstructured processes and work activities spanning a dynamic network of partners, suppliers, and consumers.

Although the research is extensive, Gartner analysts said it does not include all cool vendors. They point out that they cannot introduce every company that is making waves. Therefore, they've selected some companies to highlight based on Gartner's sense of how impactful these vendors can be today and in the near future.

Mr Plummer will provide additional analysis in the Gartner webinar "Cool Vendors Empower Modern IT Strategies." The webinar will take place Tuesday 17 May at 2pm and 5pm UK time. To register for either webinar, please visit

Additional information is available in the Special Report "Cool Vendors 2011" which is available on Gartner's website at This report provides links to the 65 Cool Vendors reports, Mr Plummer's recent Talking Technologies podcast, as well as upcoming webinars and Summits.
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