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For deploying its data crunchers to improve operations for its 5,000 clients, from Zynga to Rutgers University to Comcast to the FBI.


For tracking emerging tech trends with trillions of data points. Quid funnels information from patent applications, research papers, news articles, funding, and others, to create interactive visual maps of current happenings in technology sectors.


For pitting data scientists from across the globe against each other to solve research problems for prize money. Since its founding two years ago, Kaggle posted nearly 60 challenges, from mapping dark matter for NASA to helping Drexel University predict HIV progression.


For hacking a new credit rating system by analyzing thousands of variables to determine an applicant’s credit score, with the goal of providing better access to loans for those with poor credit.


For curing data headaches by streamlining electronic health records. Clinical data is often saved in a hodgepodge of formats. Apixio’s data platform fixes the glitch, making different types of records universally searchable for doctors and nurses.


For visualizing business intelligence by designing data sets into a spreadsheet-like interface, and then converting the analytics into stunning infographics and dashboards.


For leading the pack in marrying big data with marketing. With the recent launch of its Audience x Media analytics platform, BlueKai’s customers can measure the performance of online campaigns--by looking at attributes like demographics and shopping habits--and model the next campaign’s target audience more efficiently.


For filtering distractions out of social media by letting users customize what they see--and what they don’t--from their incoming Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Wordpress, and YouTube data streams.


For hipping brick-and-mortar stores to e-commerce-style customer data. The company integrates data from technologies like face detection and on-shelf sensors to help retailers know their customer as well as online counterparts do.


For creating a better e-record-keeping system. Recommind recently helped the U.S. Department of Energy streamline its e-mail operations with a system that automatically copies and indexes files and then identifies documents that can be deleted.

[Image: Flickr user Tanakawho]