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15 Technologies Bringing Innovation To The Enterprise

This article originally appeared on Forbes

"Tech companies from the Bay Area to Tel Aviv are busily—and sometimes stealthily—changing every aspect of the enterprise, from operations and IT to communications and marketing. While these companies’ innovations don’t get as much attention as those of their consumer-focused peers, the B2B disruptors have just as big an impact on their target audience. Additionally, they belong to a market just as flush with funding. Below are 15 technologies bringing innovation to the enterprise. (Please note, that this is my own research and findings as a strategist, CEO, and Forbes contributor; and not an official Forbes list.)

Video may be the future of online advertising – this year U.S.marketers are projected to spend almost $10 billion on video ads. Video advertising is a complex market, though, and there are a dizzying number of formats and devices to contend with. Brands (and publishers) are faced with the task of serving videos across all screens in a way that attracts viewers’ attention and clicks. Cedato’s video ad platform automates “cross-screen” delivery, targets viewers with the right ads, and measures the results so advertisers can simplify, optimize and track revenue of their video advertising. The company, which is a year old, recently launched a private video ad marketplace as well.


ControlUp is the tool IT systems administrators had been pining for. It’s a SaaS platform that allows them to control every aspect of their company’s IT infrastructure from a single dashboard. ControlUp has received good reviews from professionals ever since it launched. Recently, the company released an insights product, which provides collective analytics to its customers, sharing the wisdom of the crowd on how to avoid IT errors and cut costs. Today, over 500 companies are using ControlUp to manage their IT systems efficiently and easily.


DigitalGenius is an artificial intelligence platform that serves as a first line of defense for customer service. After a company signs up with DigitalGenius, it feeds the software reams of real chat dialogues between customers and customer service agents. The software learns how to field common queries: Is my flight on time? What address should I ship a return to? It can even take on more complex questions: Is it OK if I’m one pound over the luggage weight allowance? It assigns a confidence index to every answer and clients decide what level of confidence is needed to automate the answer. The result is that human agents can spend their time dealing with the complicated stuff while DigitalGenius take cares of the rest.


Duda has taken code-free web design to the next level. Plug an old site into Duda and you get a redesigned, modern site within minutes. Enter a web address into Duda Mobile and out comes a new version of the site, specifically designed for mobile devices. Or, design a personalized and responsive site from scratch. The sites are fully featured and are robust enough to handle a complete e-commerce store. For companies that need to push out multiple sites, or frequent additional features, on a recurring basis, Duda may be their gift from heaven.


The cost of continuing education for promising executives is daunting: high tuition, lost labor, and the headache of replacing or supplementing a skilled leader. ExecOnline tries to ease the pain. In partnership with elite business schools—think Columbia, MIT Sloan, and Yale—ExecOnline offers certificate-granting courses online that can be completed right from your office or home. Companies save money and employees get first-rate education without disrupting their lives and careers. T-Mobile , HP , and Visa are a few of the companies that have signed on.


One of the greatest challenges facing enterprises is getting their target customers or users to engage. Livefyre has created a series of products to do just that – i.e. enable you to tell your brand story and capture the attention of your various audiences. Livefyre is probably most famous for its social comments widget, but has a full set of tools that are focused around helping companies create user generated content that builds community, provides credibility and drives customer conversations. The company has struck a chord – it raised $67 million in venture funding, and was acquired by Adobe last month.


In today's digital environment, enterprises must be sophisticated in the way they advertise to users, onboard and monetize them, as well as analyze retention and results. Few companies have been able to incorporate all of these elements under a single roof. Enter Perion, an Israeli software powerhouse offering customers a full suite of technology and services to acquire, monetize and retain users. From its legacy products CodeFuel and Growmobile, which offer content monetization and marketing automation, respectively, to the company's recent purchase of creative digital ad firm Undertone for $180 million, Perion keeps expanding -- bringing synergy between its offerings and to its customers.


Media consumers today are both savvier and more inundated with news than ever before. So PR agencies and companies that want to share news about themselves have to up their game. Prezly helps them do it. Prezly is a publishing platform that takes sharing stories beyond the realm of pushing press releases out to wire services. Instead, stories and videos are presented in a slick format with a slew of tracking features and social media functions under the skin. Prezly’s clients—which include Samsung, IKEA, and Doctors Without Borders—say that stories made with Prezly take less time to produce and generate more engagement from audiences. In the competition for mindshare, that’s what matters.

RR Media

Founded as a satellite communications company 35 years ago, RR Media became a significant content distributor (with a satellite and fiber optic network spanning the globe), and more recently, evolved into a full media services company. Any channel looking to do what it does best – namely create awesome content – can outsource the entire operational side of running a channel to RR Media. With an ever-increasing amount of video consumption, and therefore video content creators, such a service is more relevant than ever. So much so that in April, SES Platform Services— a leading global content management and distribution company—bought RR Media. The result? A massive global media services company and network that gives content creators—such as MTV, the NBA, and Sky— global operations management and access to viewers.


Shyp makes packing and shipping as easy as tapping a mobile screen. The idea is simple, as the best ones usually are. Photograph an item to ship, a courier picks it up, then Shyp packages it and sends it using the most economical carrier—whether that is UPS, FedEX, the Postal Service, or any other. The incremental cost of shipping with Shyp versus on your own is small. (Shyp makes a good deal of its money by negotiating discounted rates with carriers and pocketing the spread.) Shyp was designed with individual consumers in mind, but now businesses are using it to cut down on administrative work.


Three years, three billion dollars. That’s roughly the amount of time since Slack was founded and what it’s worth today. Founded on the belief that email and meetings were time sucks, Slack sought to streamline the workplace. Its messaging, file-sharing, and all-around collaboration app increased productivity and decreased aggravation. Office workers went crazy for it, driving its user base to grow 5% per week for a year and a half after it launched—all through word of mouth. Today the Slack revolution continues, propelled by another shocking number: $540 million of venture capital funding.


StartApp began life as an app monetization tool, morphed into a wildly successful mobile ad network, and is now taking on big data in the social sphere. For years, Facebook and Google have been the giants of social data. A new product from StartApp called SODA (Social Data Platform) is giving other social apps and publishers a leg up. SODA enables its customers to share what they know—a dating app shares relationship status, a ticket reseller shares music preferences—and in return each app gets access to the wider pool of knowledge. All the data is anonymous—it can’t be traced back to a specific person. However, it enables non-behemoth companies to get the kind of composite view of their customer base, the holy grail of marketing, that Facebook and Google create on their own.


TapAnalytics solves a problem faced by all marketers: having too much data from too many sources and no way to integrate it all. Tapanalytics’ Tapclicks platform consolidates ad campaign metrics from dozens of services, including Constant Contact, Instagram, and YouTube. A marketing agency can also share the data with a client through TapClicks to make the impact of a campaign clear. TapClicks, the creator of TapAnalytics, has raised $6 million of seed capital.


A plug-and-play cash register, sales tracker, and e-commerce platform, Vend is just about the simplest way to keep a store (or a chain of stores) running. It runs online or offline on any device and operating system. It’s web-based, so storeowners don’t have to worry about their hardware becoming obsolete. Getting Vend running just requires subscribing, so there’s no need for an IT overhaul. Currently Vend’s customers range from local crafts stores to NASA’s gift shops. Investors believe the company has the potential for serious growth and have pumped in almost $40 million in the past five years.


WeGoLook got its start inspecting high-price online purchases for consumers— for example, a WeGoLook contractor physically inspecting a car you want to buy on eBay to make sure the engine starts. The company has since created a B2B platform, allowing businesses to dispatch on-demand field inspectors and verifiers anywhere in the country to perform property, auto, heavy equipment or other inspections – or even do insurance adjustments. With an army of 20,000 “lookers,” WeGoLook can dispatch someone to inspect or verify just about anything your business needs anywhere in the country."

Source: Shama Hyder is a Forbes contributor on business, technology, and marketing in the digital age.

Shama Hyder is Founder & CEO of The Marketing Zen Group, a best-selling author and an internationally renowned keynote speaker. Her most recent book is Momentum (May 2016).


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