AI, blockchain top this season's companies to watch hot list
- Artificial intelligence and blockchain companies dominated The Wall Street Journal's rankings of 25 emerging technology leaders. The six recognized AI companies provide chatbot services, data analytics, fraud detection, autonomous vehicle technology and agricultural services, among other features. San Francisco-based Spoke garnered the top spot for AI companies and No. 7 overall.
- Blockstream Corp, the No. 2 company, led the blockchain companies with its cryptocurrency services. Other blockchain companies that made the list offer secure transactions, web browsing and cyptocurrency investment services.
- Cybersecurity provider Bitglass Inc. cinched the No. 1 spot. Exabeam Inc. and Claroty Ltd. rounded out the cybersecurity category, the third largest in the rankings.
The young companies were all selected for their potential to become leaders, based on founder experience, investment history, growth and general "buzz." The remaining 11 companies on the list fell in a variety of verticals, including drones, fintech, education, healthcare and business software.
The three dominant technology fields occupy unique market maturities relative to one another. In the wake of major breaches and increased threats, cybersecurity has emerged as one of the top priorities for business leaders. An overloaded marketplace filled with too many vendors makes it difficult for companies to stand out and customers to choose an offering.
Many vendors incorporate advanced technologies like blockchain, artificial intelligence and machine learning into their products, but oftentimes development and reality fail to live up to expectations.
Artificial intelligence has become the backbone of many of the world's most innovative companies, promising to unlock decades worth of data and turn it into valuable business intelligence while taking over more responsibilities from human workers. With a cumulonimbus cloud of hype and expectation surrounding the technology, product developers and customers have to figure out the practical — and not necessarily sexy — application of AI that will actually move their business forward.
AI, ML and deep learning applications are only at the beginning of their development journey, but the technology is already seeing huge returns in the market when applied correctly. If the technologies can find the right pressure point, vendors and niche players capitalizing on the rapidly expanding market are well prepared for the coming wave.
And last but not least, blockchain — the ledger technology most of us wish we could forget about even if headlines and hype won't let us. Everyone from Facebook and Amazon to Kodak, Starbucks and Cargill is trying to get in on the action and tap a vein in the multi-billion dollar blockchain and related services market.
The technology is rapidly finding use in supply chains and fintech, as reflected by the companies selected for the emerging leaders list. Yet it is promised as the end-all solution for domains such as data storage, identity management and a long list of very bad ideas.
Like AI, experts agree that the potential of blockchain is beyond measure, but it still has a long way to go in its development lifecycle, especially before becoming the de facto system for sensitive data and operations. The winning solutions have yet to hit the market, but early innovators in the field are setting the standards and roadmap for the technology.
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