August 2017

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Report identifies vendors that can help keep pace with digital innovation

According to research firm Gartner, CIOs and IT leaders should partner with digital disruptors that can help them maintain a pace of innovation that is at once high and sustainable. Gartner, Inc.'s 2017 Cool Vendors research examines 330 disruptive vendors that are helping companies to solve long-established problems and stay ahead of the competition in a rapidly changing world.

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 at Gartner. "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.

"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 pre-digital 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," Mr. Plummer said.

Since Gartner first introduced the Cool Vendors report in 2004, more than 2,900 cool vendors have been profiled. A few 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 based on their sense of how impactful they are today and can be in the near future.

The full report is available for registered users at