Companies of all sizes, including startups, are eagerly embracing technologies like artificial intelligence (AI), natural language processing (NLP) and machine learning.
Startups focus on technology that helps companies be agile and lean. They also “create ridiculously cool customer experiences,” Steve Peltzman, chief business technology officer for Forrester, told CMSWire during a recent meetup at his company's Cambridge, Mass. headquarters.
Forrester invites select tech startups, smaller companies and unique divisions of large enterprises to showcase their tech at its tech mixer event each year to demonstrate “emerging technology companies that might inspire us to think differently and give us an edge in winning, serving and retaining our customers.”
Startups: Fast, Agile
“That’s my focus — AI, customer experience solutions, real-time stuff,” Peltzman said. “People don’t want to just stare at data. They want to operationalize it.”
Startups that capitalize on emerging technologies have smart, innovative team members who tend to focus on a single problem for a smaller set of customers. They do so “without the pressure of ‘making this quarter’s numbers,’” Peltzman said, adding:
“That’s one of the reasons I want to work with smaller companies. They don’t have that pressure. They move faster and are agiler and more willing to work. A lot of these proofs of concepts they did so with very little money. These are companies that are eager to prove themselves. To me, the advantage is not so much technology as it is partnerships, opportunities and agility.”
Startups: A Sample of Technologies
Participating companies included:
- Acuity3D (Data-Driven Decisions), a proactive inside sales management application
- AI Foundry, a Kodak Alaris business unit, which integrates information, people and processes to enable increased insight and improved decision-making
- Arcadia Data, which created a visual analytics platform
- Armis, a next-generation wireless security platform
- BEEP, a beacon-enabled mobile app and analytics platform for events and conferences
- Cazena, provider of an Analytic Platform-as-a-Service
- CloudCraze, which delivers B2B commerce native on Salesforce
- CloudHealth, a provider of cloud management
- Content Raven, a digital learning platform
- CrowdComfort, which enables building occupants to report comfort and maintenance issues
- DataXylo , provider of an AI-powered Customer Analytics Platform for marketing
- Datorama, a global marketing analytics company
- Equals 3, which taps into the power of IBM Watson to aid marketers with research, audience segmentation, persona modeling and media planning
- EverString, whose self-service Audience Platform is an AI solution
- Fireglass, which allows users to click with confidence from any device by eliminating malware and phishing from web and email with no endpoint agent
- Happiest Minds, which enables Digital Transformation by delivering seamless customer experience, business efficiency and actionable insights
- Idio, which exists to power the perfect customer conversation
- Keeeb, which connects existing corporate information islands
- Koverse, which helps companies realize the promise of big data
- Luminoso Technologies, a natural language understanding company
- MemSQL, a database for modern web-scale workloads
- Microsoft HoloLens, the first self-contained, holographic computer
- Stantive's OrchestraCMS, a content management system (CMS) built 100 percent native on Salesforce
- Spigit, a provider of idea management software
- Spiro, a personal sales assistant
- Talla, which powers chat platforms
- TrustSphere, a provider of Relationship Analytics
- WorkJam, an employee engagement suite
We caught up with representatives from a few of them. Here's what they had to say about their platforms.
Sarah Goold, Sales Director
"In the current marketing space, there is a huge amount of data, and the proliferation of data and the new data sources that come out on a regular basis. Marketers have a huge variety of choices when they’re looking at BI tools.
"Datorama specializes in the BI landscape for marketers. We bring together all of those disparate sets of data and whether it be Salesforce CRM, display, data from their agencies, and we aggregate all that and harmonize it and do all the data preparation — things that take a very long time.
"We help them make sense and understand all that in a very friendly way. Data can be very scary especially when you are a marketer that has so much of it. A lot of companies have been around for many years, and they sit on so much information. Being able to use it in a way so that they can drive their business forward in a positive, effective way is really important.
"We’re giving a platform that is a robust analysis that allows them to really understand what’s working and what’s not in an automated fashion, from the top down, CEOs to line of business. It’s a view across the board."
Nirmal Parikh, Founder
"There are a lot of event apps. What makes ours, BEEP, unique is it complements the use of beacons which enables proximity-based marketing. It allows us to track attendee interactions from the time they enter the conference or your event to the time they leave and everything they do in between.
"We track the sessions they attend, all the booths they go visit, how much time they actually spent at each of these booths. If they receive a piece of content from the exhibitor we track what pieces of content they received.
"As an organizer, you’re building a unique profile for every attendee that came to the conference. We see this as a game-changer. Conferences and events have been around for a while. But that is also working against them. Technology adoption is really, really slow. So we’re trying to use Beacon technology that captures this rich information and analytics and send it back to the organizers and exhibitors.
"We can present a piece of content to you right in the conference app. Your content library is going to look very different than someone else's because of your interactions at the booths and all the exhibitors. It's a very personalized unique experience we’re able to deliver."
Mike Connor, Marketing Associate
"What makes Cazena different is that it’s a managed service. We provide an analytic platform in the cloud that your team can use to run analytics. But they don’t need to worry about the backend infrastructure. We provide that for them. They don’t need to worry about dealing with the cloud provider and instances.
"It’s a subscription fee so they don’t have to worry about costs skyrocketing. It’s not pay as you go. So basically we assess their workload and figure out how much compute storage, how many nodes, what engine to use for that based on their SLAs and their project. And then we spin that up for them.
"All the support, services, upgrades and patches for those instances is through us. We make it very simple for enterprises to use the cloud. Data scientists have presented themselves with a huge market for needing to run analytics but not wanting to spend time spinning up the infrastructure behind it."
Denise Christie, Marketing Communications Manager
"We’re a natural language understanding company, which means you can take anything that a person has written or said that’s been transcribed — things like product reviews, open-ended survey responses, contact centers — and very quickly or instantaneously understand what people are saying, what’s trending over time or across different groups of customers or employees.
"What makes Luminoso different is our use of AI and NLP. Traditionally the way this has been approached has been by creating long lists of keywords or boolean searches and basically doing a quick "Control F" on a computer. It's very manual.
"In a world where things change very quickly, especially in a customer support environment, that type of manual approach doesn’t work. Because we’re using AI and NLP we can often do that instantaneously. The machine learning means that the software can understand incoming concepts and how they relate to other concepts in the data set at that moment."
Tom Clancy, Executive Advisor
"Corporate organizations today have learning organizations that are very traditional. But the actual employees want to learn the same way that they learn at home. They want to learn at the speed of search. They want to Google their learning. This is what our company does.
We provide a corporate, YouTube-like user interface that is very nicely laid out for any type of digital learning, whether it’d be video, e-learning, podcasts, whitepapers, all in one place with great analytics, mobile capabilities, personalization. You learn what you want to learn with Content Raven and not try to figure it out from a massive set of content.
We provide learning at the speed of search. We aggregate everything in one great experience, like you were going on Google or YouTube."
Christian Desrosiers, Senior Account Executive
"It’s a crowded space if you just talk about WCM in general. That’s absolutely true. What separates us with Orchestra CMS apart is we’re the only enterprise-class web content management system that’s 100 percent native to Salesforce.com. And in that ecosystem, there really is no one else.
"On top of that, we have a very powerful content targeting engine. What is Salesforce known for? Customer data and CRM. We leverage all that customer data because we co-exist with that customer data. There are no integrations whatsoever because we are native to the platform. Every other company has to build out some integration. Or buy some kind of connectors. We don’t have that challenge."