15 Cloud Technologies That Can Help Your Business
By Dan Reich
Cloud companies are having something of a moment in 2017. Valuations have soared for startups providing advertising technology, operational analysis, marketing analytics and other cloud-based products to businesses. The reasons are clear. Businesses are hungrier than ever for solutions that bring automation, machine learning, insights, cost efficiency and other cloud-based benefits to their operations. Below are 15 cloud technologies that can help your business in a variety of areas, from marketing and HR to operations and security.
Founded in 2011 as a conference networking app, Bizzabo pivoted in 2015 to create comprehensive event management and marketing software. Today, the New York–based startup provides an end-to-end solution for event organizers — including registration, agenda management, social networking, and analytics of guests’ digital behavior. Bizzabo, which closed a $6.5 million funding round in April, is a competitive startup in a growing market. The biggest player in the sector, Cvent, was acquired by a private equity firm for $1.65 billion last year. Meanwhile, Bizzabo has signed a number of high-profile customers to its expanding roster, including GE, Virgin, and The Lean Startup.
In the past year, Connatix has emerged as one of the most technologically advanced players in the native advertising space—a sector often regarded as the future of online advertising. Native ads—often presented as branded blog posts—draw more eyeballs for more time, boosting advertisers’ return on investment over traditional ads. Recently, Connatix has expanded into video by launching Connatix Programming Syndication (CPS), a native video ad service. In real-time, it selects the native video that is most relevant to an individual user. It also monitors the content surrounding a video to ensure it runs in an appropriate context. Finally, Connatix partnered with GeoEdge, a security firm, to deflect fraudulent ads. The result is that Connatix can now serve as a one-stop native ad solution for both advertisers and publishers, including new high-profile customers like Meredith, Time Inc., and Conde Nast.
The paradox of choice is the enemy of e-commerce. Presented with endless options and limitless research materials, consumers find it harder, not easier, to hit the “buy” button. Feelter’s software curates social media posts and reviews about a product from across the web and presents them right on an e-retailer’s page, in an overlay format next to each product listing. The idea is that modern consumers care much more about the honest opinions of peers than about marketing copy. CEO Smadar Landau says the inspiration for her business came from her years living in India, China and Tibet, where she learned a feel-good lesson about business: truth and authenticity are the keys to conversion and growth. Her philosophy—and tech—have managed to win over the cynics in Silicon Valley. The Israel-based startup has raised $4 million of venture funding and is now working on opening an office in the U.S.
Heap provides companies with the technology to automate the most complicated and frustrating aspects of user analytics. With just a snippet of code added to a website or iOS app, Heap will begin collecting data on every user interaction—including clicks, taps, form submissions, and page views. Data is collected constantly, and a variety of reports and insights can be created on demand. The result is high-powered analytics that can empower your business to make faster, more informed decisions – all with minimal effort. Founded in 2013 and based in San Francisco, Heap has raised $40 million in funding including a $27 million series B round closed in May.
Ledge, a free mobile app, allows users to crowdsource loans from family and friends. The loans are small—less than $5,000—and short-term, with a maximum period of six months. They can have any interest rate and the app allows users to crowdsource the total amount needed from any number of lenders. Once a loan is subscribed, Ledge automatically distributes monthly payments to the lenders from the borrower’s bank account until the debt matures. The value proposition is clear. Ledge allows users to bypass financial institutions to get the cash they need for immediate costs. The app also eliminates the awkwardness of asking for loans face-to-face. Adam Neff and Luke Weber founded Ledge in September 2015 with $900,000 of seed funding. How did they raise the money? From family and friends, of course.
A provider of advanced caller ID technology, NextCaller provides detailed profile information about incoming calls as soon as the phone rings. Drawing on public databases and proprietary data mining techniques, NextCaller creates a vast database correlating phone numbers with names, email addresses, mailing addresses, company names, job titles, and other information. NextCaller’s software, which is embedded in many VoIP programs, displays the information as the phone rings and can also carry out more advanced functions like intelligently routing calls to the most relevant specialists or salespeople. The software detects fake caller ID data to help defend against spoofing. Customers find that the technology reduces waste—in the form of time that would otherwise be spent forwarding calls to the right desk—and improves rapport by ensuring that reps know who they’re talking to and why.
PandaDoc replaces outdated proposal, contract, quote and HR documents and workflows with a suite of software that produces and manages smart documents. PandaDocs can include built-in electronic signatures, workflow management features, and smart templates for building documents. The company’s calling card is customization. Its software includes an app market, called the Add-On Store, that allows customers to build up the functionality of PandaDoc based on the specific needs of every workspace—whether it’s the desk of a salesperson or HR manager. Founded in 2011, PandaDoc raised a $15 million Series B round in May (bringing total funding to $20 million) to fund further growth.
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