Gartner's 2017 Cool Vendors research profiles 330 Cool Vendors in 76 reports. Many of these providers are exploiting digitization, blockchain, artificial intelligence, conversational user experience and the Internet of Things (IoT) to build the next generation of innovation and offer unprecedented opportunities to exploit new business models.
Gartner's definition of a Cool Vendor is a small company offering a technology or service that is:
-Innovative — enables users to do things they couldn't do before.
-Impactful — has or will have a business impact, not just technology for its own sake.
-Intriguing — has caught Gartner's interest during the past six months.
"Gartner's 2017 Cool Vendors reflect the need to stand out from the crowd, the ability to keep pace in fast-changing digital scenarios and the aptitude to solve problems that have persisted over many years," said Daryl Plummer, vice president and Gartner Fellow. "Being a Cool Vendor in 2017 is all about both standing out and fitting in. In many cases, the Cool Vendors that stand out do so because they offer a major disruptive capability or opportunity."
Mainstream adoption of new digital technology options is reshaping expectations for what is normal. Most companies recognize that many categories of capabilities need to be reviewed to understand where the best new technologies will be applied. CIOs must actively seek out companies that can help them use these disruptive technologies to develop a stronger pace of innovation going forward.
"Keeping pace in digital innovation requires CIOs to stay abreast of a large amount of technology change. Cool vendors provide a window into that change with a more-focused delivery of solutions and capabilities to be used today," Plummer said. "While many Cool Vendors have yet to grow to high visibility, they benefit from being able to act quickly without the burden of existing products and services built in predigital models. CIOs interested in catching up or keeping up with these digital disruptions should be viewing these cool vendors as opportunities to partner with those who are on the edge of new thinking."
Since Gartner first introduced the Cool Vendors report in 2004, more than 2,900 Cool Vendors have been profiled. A few Cool Vendors have gone on to become IT megavendors in their own right, while others have been acquired by megavendors and other industry stalwarts; however, some have simply disappeared from the radar. While the 2017 collection of Cool Vendors is not exhaustive, Gartner analysts have selected some companies to highlight based on their sense of how impactful they are today and can be in the near future.
Additional information is available in the report "Cool Vendors 2017: Stand Up to be Noticed, Stand Out to Lead: A Gartner Trend Insight Report." This special report looks at how many of this year's Cool Vendors are keeping pace in fast-changing digital scenarios and the ability to solve problems that have persisted for years.
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