'Tis the season for Innovators
'Tis the season for Innovators

As is usual each December we indulge our love of new, innovative and cool products and companies. This year we have a great crop of selectees. Some of them are old friends and a few are new ones. We select our vendors for their creativity, success in their individual marketspaces and our estimation of how well they will do over time.  We want every one of our vendors to make it to the Hall of Fame.  That means that they will need to be selected as innovators for three years running. That tells us that, in addition to being innovators, they have staying power.  It also tells us that they are continuing to innovate.

We have several this year that are on their second year and they are showing great promise as solid candidates for the Hall of Fame next year. There are several things that we look for in our innovators. While innovative technology is important, it is not the only factor that we consider. We usually have a pretty good idea by the end of a year of reviews who is doing what but, even so, we do find “sleepers” that never found their way into a group review but are solid innovators.

Besides technology, we look at how the company took their product or service to market. Many – though not all – of our innovators are comparatively small companies with big ideas and muscle to turn those ideas into products and those products into companies. However, muscle will only go so far today.  The days of a Hewlett-Packard starting up in one of the partners' garage are sliding to a close, sadly. Smart marketing and smart distribution are critical to success and our smaller innovators need to be pretty clever and street savvy to compete successfully with the likes of a McAfee or a Symantec.

Then there are intangibles such as support – critically important – good documentation and attractive pricing without making price the distinguishing factor about the offering. When you roll all of these factors together you will find that you have defined a product that, itself along with the organization that created it, may define the next generation.

As we do every year we enjoyed this year's products and companies immensely. As well, like every year, we live for the moment when we see something so amazing that our immediate reaction is, “Why haven't I heard of this until now?”

Click HERE to see the 2017 Industry Innovators!