We combed through websites, interviewed tech experts, and researched a host of product categories to assemble, once again, the roster of 20 companies that make up our annual “Tech Companies to Watch.” We uncovered a wide range of technologies and products that would be valuable to finance chiefs, and we also discovered a wealth of innovation going on in “traditional” finance-related tech categories.
The entirety of the list appears in the April/May 2018 edition of CFO magazine. We are revealing the first 10 companies on CFO.com, one per day. Our first four tech companies to watch were Pymetrics, Prattle, Tipalti, and UiPath. Today, we cover threat management company Exabeam. Other companies in the 2018 list appear at the end of this story.
Organizations are looking for any advantages they can find to better defend themselves against increasingly sophisticated cyber criminals and other security threats. One avenue that’s become essential to good security is leveraging data and the latest analytical tools to detect and thwart attacks before they do damage. Five-year-old Exabeam is one of a number of companies aiming to help customers do just that. The company offers security intelligence and management products that support threat detection and security incident response.
The Exabeam Security Intelligence Platform combines a data lake for unlimited data collection, machine learning for advanced analytics, and automated response “playbooks” for handling the many kinds of security incidents that enterprises experience. The market Exabeam plays in is called security information and event management (SIEM), and Nir Polak, Exabeam CEO, considers the other products in the market to be “broken.”
“They charge by the volume of data being stored, effectively penalizing customers who are trying to be more secure,” says Polak. “They are notoriously inaccurate, creating literally hundreds of false alarms every day. That wastes the time of valuable [IT] employees. And they only find problems; they don’t automate.”
Exabeam charges a flat rate based on company size, not data volume. It contends that applying machine learning — the same technology that has enabled advances in autonomous driving — to cybersecurity provides more accurate information for busy security analysts.
Given the massive volume of events that are logged at companies because users access corporate networks multiple times a day from several devices, humans can’t keep up, Polak says. “We need machine intelligence to lend a helping hand,” he contends. And with the shortage of security talent, anything that enables organizations to automate and repeat standardized processes can help, he says.
Apparently, the security marketplace agrees with Exabeam’s approach. The company concluded a record year in 2017, with billings growing 250% over 2016.
The company debuted in the 2017 Gartner SIEM Magic Quadrant as a “visionary” vendor. One of Exabeam’s strengths, Gartner said, is that its architecture is “big-data oriented” and it supports a variety of deployment options (including on-premises, infrastructure-as-a-service, and hybrid).
That’s not to say there aren’t challenges lying in Exabeam’s path.
For example, IBM, Hewlett-Packard Enterprise, Intel Security, and Splunk are all competitors, and that’s not even a complete list. “We are taking on a big market, with established players, so we have to execute,” Polak says. “We also need to hire a lot of good people, and the hiring market is tight right now. But usually, when people hear about our growth and tech, their eyes light up.”
Exabeam was built by seasoned security and enterprise IT veterans from companies such as Imperva, ArcSight, and Sumo Logic. Their collective industry knowledge has created a company culture of continuous innovation and collaboration, Polak claims. “We are also a very transparent culture,” he says. “Every day we have hard, honest discussions to help us fix problems and move ahead faster.”
With cyber criminals adapting quickly to enterprise defenses, moving swiftly will be important. Up next for Exabeam: “tightening integrations within the platform, enhancing the user experience, and increasing emphasis on the cloud,” Polak says.
Other 2018 Tech Companies to Watch