MDM vendor Purisma just announced something which seems to me a useful idea, and then got carried away in the marketing. MDM is a fairly broad landscape, and certainly trying to fix a company’s MDM problems is a major exercise involving not just clever software but also business processes and data quality. This may all seem too much for some customers, and so a smart move is to try to reduce things to manageable proportions by tackiling some more “bite sized” issues. One good example of this is dealing with Dun & Bradstreet data. Dun & Bradstreet is a company who provide information on credit risk, and as a by-product of this have the most robust set of company data around. Hence if you want to know who owns who, Dun & Bradstreet has a pretty definitive set of data, updated on a regular basis. Companies wanting to tackle procurement quickly find that managing their supplier data on a consistent basis is a recurring headache, so standardising around Dun & Bradstreet codes for companies is a good way to get a grip on who their suppliers really are. However, keeping things up to date when the new D&B data comes out is an issue.
Purisma have bundled up their MDM application with pre-built Dun & Bradstreet data capabilities, thus creating an application of MDM that is widely applicable and can create a foot in the door for their broader MDM capabilities. This is an astute move and one I am surprised that other MDM vendors have been so slow to pick up on. Picking off niche but meaningful business problems like this one is a way of bringing the benefits of MDM software to customers and creating a bridgehead within accounts that can be broadened without having to a sell a gigantic enterprise-wide MDM project. For me it is a pity that they have chosen to hype this by calling the application an “appliance”. I have written previously about the use of this term, which was cleverly introduced by Netezza to describe their data warehouse hardware/software solutiion. By using a term that once associates with a toaster or a fridge it conjures up in the mind something that can just be plugged in and immediately works, yet this is hardly the case with a data warehouse, from Netezza or anyone else. However it is at least correct that it involves a piece of hardware. To label an MDM application a “software appliance” is stretching the term ever thinner in my view. Tech companies seem unable to resist latching on to whatever term seems to be trendy, and this is an opportunistic label. The day that an enterprise can plug in a data-related application as easily as a toaster is the day that an awful lot of consultants will be out of business, and that will not be soon.
Anyway, this is a distraction from what I otherwise think is a clever move from Purisma, which has emerged under the leadership of Pete Daffern, an impressive character who used to work for Vitria and has done an excellent job of raising Purisma’s profile. Bringing MDM applications down to manageable business problems has to be a good idea, and I would expect others to follow.