Being a leader is not easy. Predicting the next batch of leaders presents its own challenges. When it comes to social media domination, cloud storage innovation and creative media platforms, these may be the hottest three companies to watch in 2014.

Dropbox
The late Apple CEO Steve Jobs once vowed to squash Dropbox—just literally crush it. The cloud innovator caught the full fury of Jobs when in 2011 he vowed to crush the cloud storage company. Today, Dropbox has $200 million in revenues and, with investment funding hitting $8 billion during 2013, the threats Jobs made to "kill Dropbox with iCloud" are a distant, yet notable, memory for Dropbox CEO Drew Houston.

With an $8 billion value and the Steve Jobs storm more than weathered, Dropbox is positioning to be more than a cloud storage platform in 2014. The company, emerging as a visionary leader in business cloud storage solutions, is poised to make changes in the way businesses think about document storage, enabling for an upsurge in mobile workforce attitudes and implementations.

In 2013, Dropbox introduced Dropbox for Business. With it, users can view their personal files in one tab and their work files in another tab without having to use multiple windows. If people already have separate business and personal accounts, they can pair them with the new tool. In a blog post, co-founders Houston and CTO Arash Ferdowsi explained: “It’ll be like having your house keys and your work keycard on the same key chain.”

Dropbox is bringing an amazing simplicity to document storage and sharing for today’s mobile professionals. Clever, Dropbox, very clever.

Pinterest
Why is Pinterest a hot company to watch? Well, sometimes a great idea needs a little time to make sense to businesses. For the everyday consumer, Pinterest made sense right way: Image sharing made fun, easy, personal, timely and collaborative. For businesses, though, not so much! Companies, particularly in the B2B space, moved marketing messages and corporate outreach onto Facebook and Twitter, and, of course and rightly so, LinkedIn. But Pinterest, for businesses? Really? REALLY!

Pinterest is enticing huge brands and some social media analysts are now professing that Pinterest will join Google+ in beating out Facebook as a leading social provider in 2014. Topping 70 million users during 2013—with a big jump from 48 million users in February 2013 to hit the 70 million mark in July 2013—Pinterest is on the rise. And, with 30 percent of users pinning and repining, Pinterest has caught the eye of business marketers as an effective way to share and promote visual content marketing for 2014. At this time, Pinterest has about 500,000 and counting business accounts actively pinning marketing materials and corporate messaging.

Pinterest provides a great platform for brand identity and brand storytelling. Pinterest is officially the fastest growing social network, with a great following by iPad users.

Flipboard
Flipboard raised $50 million in new funding by September 2013, according to reports by industry watchers including AllThingsD. Co-founded by longtime entrepreneur Mike McCue and former Apple iPhone engineer Evan Doll in 2010, Flipboard has been attempting to make online content consumption more accessible and visually captivating via its robust app. It pulls information from media feeds and social sites, such as Twitter and Facebook data streams, and reassembles the data in an easy-to-navigate, personalized format in a mobile—and now a desktop—touchscreen environment. How cool is that!

Over the last several years, Flipboard has evolved quickly to add more features such as allowing users and publishers to create their own online "magazines" of favorite content. According to the company, more than 3 million such magazines have been created. Flipboard has myriad competitors—including Google’s Currents and smaller, mostly media-focused reading apps such as Zite, Circa and others—but it is entering 2014 as the most popular of the lot. Marketing experts are taking note of Flipboard’s opportunities for B2B tech marketing, enabling tech firms to convey their services, expertise and wares in an exciting, vibrant online style.

With options to feature Flipboard magazines on corporate LinkedIn accounts, blogs and more, Flipboard presents a lively, visual platform for conveying a company’s expertise and thought leadership.

Keep an eye on these creative businesses during 2014, but be ready to get to know the next great social media platform, mobile workforce utility and chic marketing tool targeting your marketing campaigns. They are out there … somewhere.

Marie Alonso is an online marketing and media strategist at Miles Technologies, a leading IT company. The Miles Technologies team contributes business-driven content to The VAR Guy regularly.