“Big data” isn’t just an enterprise trend. It’s a technological innovation that is already making a difference in your life.

Police are mixing crime data and sociological information to antici...A small cadre of scientists in Silicon Valley is harnessing genetics data to detect early signs of disease. For business owners and harried IT executives, it’s easy feel overwhelmed with the flood of so-called big data options on the market. That is, if you buy into the trend at all.

CloudBeat 2012“Big Data” is one of the main themes ofCloudBeat 2012, VentureBeat’s upcoming conference highlighting real cases of revolutionary cloud adoption. We’ll explore organizations’ current issues with huge datasets as well as the many solutions that vendors provide to these problems. Confirmed participants include Metamarkets, Cloudera, and Qubole. CloudBeat happens November 28-29 in Redwood City, Calif. Register today!

We believe it’s time to cut through the hype and show you some cool companies that use big data to further research in the fields of healthcare, law, government, and education. To assemble our inaugural list of 10 standout companies, we spoke with investors, analysts, and experts.

We narrowed it down to some ground-breaking favorites who helped define the field. You’ll notice that the companies cover a lot of ground — we anointed a leader in every category, such as data science, business intelligence, data visualization and analytics. We also threw a few impressive newcomers into the mix as well.

Meet our inaugural list of big data companies that are exploiting data in ways that you wouldn’t expect.