Andy on Enterprise Software

Data Governance resources

October 21, 2013

There are a few useful places to look if you are investigating data governance. The longest established one is the Data Governance Institute, including a high level model for data governance:

http://www.datagovernance.com/

One good vendor resource is Informatica’s

http://governyourdata.com

which is vendor-neutral, and has links to lots of assorted data governance material. If you want to actually see how your data governance program is performing, or indeed what to benchmark you current status, then of course I recommend The Information Difference’s detailed survey report:

http://informationdifference.com/products/dg-benchmarking/index.html

where you can see how you stack up in detail v a large group of peer companies. The same company also has two detailed survey reports for sale with a wealth of detail:

http://informationdifference.com/products/rapidcart-3/index.html

Kalido changes hands

October 17, 2013

Yesterday Kalido, the data warehouse and MDM company, changed owners. Rather than an acquisition by a software company, the buyer was an investment company called Silverback, a Texas company backed by a VC called Austin Ventures. The company specialises in purchasing software companies in related groups, building the businesses into something greater than the original parts. It has recently done this with a series of project management-related acquisitions in the form of Upland Software. In this context, presumably Kalido will be combined with Noetix, an analytics company in their portfolio, perhaps with something else to follow. At first glance, the synergy here looks limited, but we shall see. It would make sense if acquisitions in the areas of data quality and perhaps data integration followed, allowing a broader platform-based message around master data.

As someone with a personal interest in the company (I founded it, but left in 2006 when it moved its management to the USA) it is a little sad to see Kalido not achieve greater things than it has in the market, at least up until now. It was perhaps a bit ahead of its time, and had technology features back in 1996 that are only now appearing in (some) current competitors: time variance and the management of federations of hub instances being key examples. The marketing messaging and sales execution never matched the technology, though the company has nevertheless built up an impressive portfolio of global customers, which remain a considerable asset. Hopefully the new backers will invigorate the company, though to do this a key indicator will be whether they manage to lock in and motivate key technical staff. If this happens, and genuinely synergistic acquisitions follow, then perhaps the company’s technology will gain the wider audience that it deserves.

MDM Software Evaluation

September 6, 2013

The Information Difference recently launched a new offering called MDM Select. This builds on our existing detailed functional model of an ideal MDM product, and goes further by scoring all the leading MDM products in the market against it. An end user purchasing MDM select merely has to weight the various functions according to priority to them, which will vary by use case, and then press a button. The weighted scores of the leading MDM products will then be sent to them, removing the need for a lengthy evaluation process. At the very least this is a quick way to identify a shortlist suited to your needs. I will soon be talking about this at a webinar on Thursday September12th at 08:00 PST = 11:00 EST = 16:00 GMT = 17:00 European time.

To register and for more details see this link.

MDM Conference – 18th June

May 27, 2013

I will be delivering the keynote speech at an MDM conference in London on Tuesday 18th June, whose details are here.

I will be covering:

- what is MDM and its links to data governance and data quality
- the issues that give rise to MDM
- the value that organisations can get from MDM
- Best practice and how to avoid common mistakes in MDM programs.

Hope to see you there!

Informatica’s MDM strategy

March 12, 2013

I recently spent a couple of days with the management of Informatica at the Rosewood Hotel in Palo Alto. The company sees a lot of potential in the notionally rather mature area of data integration, with hand-coding still the norm in many companies, especially in less developed markets such as China, Russia and Mexico. From an MDM viewpoint, In 2012 one third of the revenue was part of a broader deal, with the company claiming a doubling of customer logos. Informatica’s MDM offering is based on two acquisitions, Siperian and now Helier. Siperian was also noted for its good scalability for customer data, and a recent customer win at HP illustrates that, the application dealing with 1.5 billion customer records, and handling 37,000 users.

The Heiler acquisition is still technically not complete (German securities rules in such things moves slowly) but it was evident that the Heiler staff were already working in concert with Informatica. Heiler itself grew 29% in 2012, showing a growth spurt in Q4 after the acquisition was announced. Informatica had for some time claimed that their MDM offering was multi-domain, but in reality most customer examples were based on customer data, and heavily skewed towards North America. The purchase of European PIM vendor Heiler gives more balance to this picture, and in time one would expect to see the separate MDM hubs sharing metadata etc. Informatica actually has a quite good story around managing multiple MDM hubs, but this is one that it has been quiet about, perhaps not perceiving much demand, yet its capabilities e.g. in data masking, are useful in such contexts and should enable it to do a better job than many in a federated environment. For mufti-national companies managing a federation of MDM hubs will be the reality, but the MDM market has been in denial about this. To me there is an opportunity here for any vendor that can clearly articulate a federated vision.

Informatica has clearly embraced MDM as a core technology, and indeed this make sense given the higher growth rates in the MDM market than in its traditional integration market.

Informatica goes shopping

October 9, 2012

Informatica has made an offer to buy Germany PIM vendor Heiler – the deal has not gone through yet and the German securities laws are complex, but it appears to be a “friendly” takeover. There are a few interesting aspects to this. Firstly, it sets a useful valuation benchmark. Heiler did 17.4 million Euros in revenue in their last financial year, and the offer is 80.8 million, so this is a price to sales ratio of 4.6, a healthy though not extreme valuation (Heiler also has 15.8 million euros of cash and is modestly profitable, with profits in the last financial year of 1.4 million Euros). It had been around in the MDM market for 12 years, and so is quite a mature product/company, shown in the split of its revenue, with nearly half its revenue in services, and a fifth in maintenance revenue, with several hundred customers.

The deal makes sense to Heiler, as Informatica has a far more powerful sales channel. From Informatica’s perspective they gain a solid piece of technology with a proven footprint in the product data domain, whereas Informatica, for all its multi-domain marketing, has been primarily used to managed customer data. They also gain a slice of the European MDM market, reducing their heavy US revenue preponderance. Moreover, assuming the deal goes ahead, Informatica now has several hundred new customers to up-sell its other software to e.g. its integration and data quality offerings.

The deal also shows that the M&A market is still active for MDM software, which is positive news for the shareholders of other independent MDM vendors out there.

Upcoming webinar – Choosing an MDM Vendor

August 31, 2012

Choosing an MDM vendor is (or should be) a big decision. It is not just the price of the software – you will, according to Information Difference research, spend four times as much on services as on software when you implement an MDM solution, and then you have to consider maintenance over many years. Yet in my experience some companies do not allow much time to choose their vendor. They perhaps go with an incumbent platform vendor, or ask a systems integrator, or maybe do a brief beauty parade of a few vendors. In a free upcoming webinar I talk about best practice in this area:

http://www.informationdifference.com/webcast.html

It is on September 19th – register now.

The Long and Winding Road of MDM Product Integration

October 14, 2011

IBM as just announced version 10 of its MDM offering, now called “Infosphere Master Data Management”. IBM has been on a long-term path to merging the MDM technologies it acquired in the product domain (from Trigo) and the customer domain (DWL). This was a path further complicated by its more recent purchase of Initiate. This announcement brings these product lines together, at least under a common marketing banner and price structure. The idea is that the new product is available is four “editions”. The “collaborative” edition is essentially the old MDM Server for PIM (exTrigo). The “standard” edition is essentially the old Initiate product. The “Advanced” edition bundles these two technologies together. The “enterprise edition” adds in the old MDM Server for Customer (ex DWL) product.

There is a unified pricing model behind these editions, though this apparent step forward is rather handicapped by the pricing model being distinctly opaque. It is based on no less than four parameters: edition, industry, data domains being managed and how many records are being mastered. When something becomes this complex it gives the sales force considerable flexibility (presumably the intention) but is potentially confusing for the customers, and possibly IBM’s own staff.

Fortunately, as well as this partial step forward on the marketing side, there is some actual code in the release. The Initiate matching engine, which was well regarded, is now used across the product line for probabilistic matching (the old Quality Stage approach is still available fro deterministic matching). The workflow engine BPM Express is bundled in with the enterprise edition, meaning that very complex sets of workflow and permissions can now be handled, if need be in a real-time manner. There is a much-needed overhaul of the old PIM user interlace in the new Collaborative Edition. Other enhancements are present, such as integration with the Guardium Data Activity Monitor.

All this amounts to a significant release that at least starts IBM on a path to unifying its MDM technologies. This will be a long path, as there are still three underlying, different, server technologies here. However at least customers now have a sense of the MDM direction in which IBM is heading now even if they need to realise that it will be a long and winding road before they get there.

MDM in Asia

July 18, 2011

Much of the English-speaking press tends to highlight master data management projects and activities in the USA and Europe, but this is only part of the picture. Asia Pacific includes the world’s most dynamic and largest economies, including China and India, as well as some of its most technologically advanced, such as Singapore. Casting the map a little further, Australia is the only “developed” economy that has sailed through the economic turbulence of the last three years relatively untroubled. Clearly, improving the state of master data will be as relevant to companies and governments in these economies as it is to western ones.

I will be participating in a series of MDM-related talks in this region in August, starting in Mumbai, then moving on to Singapore, Hong Kong and Beijing, then Melbourne and Australia. The topic is “customer centricity” and how MDM can help build up a better view of the customer. This is a major headache for most enterprises, who usually have multiple competing systems holding customer data (an average of six systems according to an Information Difference survey, with some companies having over 100 systems holding customer data). On a project in Australia that I was involved with some years ago one company thought that it had 25,000 customers. After a project to rationalise and combine the various systems holding customer data the true figure turned out to be just 5,000 – a huge difference.

Understanding customer profitability is important. In one project at a US manufacturer I was involved with, a careful review of the cost allocation process revealed that a significant proportion of contracts with customers were in fact loss-making to the corporation. What was worse was that many of these were larger contracts, where customers had demanded, and received, large discounts due to their scale. Following this review a number of contracts were re-negotiated, paying for the cost of the master data project within months.

It can be seen that getting control of your customer data is important and can yield significant monetary benefits.

The forum focuses on improving customer data. It is hosted by Informatica and sponsored by Capgemini. The detailed schedule and how to register can be found here:

http://au.vip.informatica.com/?elqPURLPage=9107

If you are in the region and are free on one of these dates, then I hope to see you there.

How well do acquisitions work?

June 24, 2011

There was an interesting article from Derek Singleton of Software Advice today about the shopping spree that IBM has been on over recent years, and some speculation about who might be next in the blue shopping cart:

http://www.softwareadvice.com/articles/enterprise/ibm-mergers-acquisitions-1062211/

While I think it is difficult to predict acquisitions, what is interesting is the sheer extent to which IBM has been buying technology in recent years. Seeing it laid out in detal in this article is certainly interesting. Of course, Oracle, SAP and Microsoft are no strangers to this route either, and it does make you wonder to what extent the giant companies have to some extent given up on relying on their own R&D, and dipped into their cash reserves when a particular trend n the market has eluded them and a smaller, nimbler company has made progress. From a customer viewpoint it is a tricky balance. It is comforting to some extent to know that a key technology is in “safe” hands, yet this can be illusory. When a company is small and independent it is very focused on what it is doing, but a giant vendor with dozens or hundreds of products is only going to give so much attention to a particular niche product. It is also common for energetic founders of a small company to move on at the point of an acquisition, preferring to avoid the loss of control that big company life brings.

What would be interesting would be for someone to step back and assess the success of acquisitions by major companies, to see which ones really worked and which ones just faded away into the background, in particular if it was possible to work out any common lessons from the successes and failures. This is not an easy thing to do, as large public companies frequently resist breaking out their component businesses in terms of financial figures, but it is an interesting topic.

In the areas that The Informaton Difference concentrates on, M&A activity can be seen here:

http://www.informationdifference.com/mergers_and_acquisitions.html

All comments welcome.