We're cheating a bit here because DataSift officially launched its product at the end of 2011. But everyone really took notice this year of the company's software for capturing and analyzing the fire hose of data generated by social network sites like Twitter and Facebook.
DataSift offers software that businesses use to define complex filters, based on such criteria as location, gender and even sentiment, to sort through billions of social interactions. This year the San Francisco-based company inked a deal with Twitter, giving DataSift access to an archive of tweets going back to January 2010 for market research purposes. And in September, it launched a product specifically for the financial services industry.