Andy on Enterprise Software

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!

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:

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:

All comments welcome.

Diversity in MDM

February 8, 2011

It has long been a theme of my writing that MDM is something that goes beyond customer and product data, and after making that point publicly at a conference in 2006 (to much ridicule from a VP of a well known MDM vendor in the audience) it seems as if the tide of opinion has definitely switched in the multi-domian direction in the last couple of years. A good example of this was shown today. Orchestra Networks is a French MDM vendor with a multi-domain MDM product. In their latest release of their EBX product they announced specific solutions for MDM in Finance and Accounting, MDM in HR and MDM in sales and marketing.

This business line orientation seems a sensible mmove to me. Most vendors talk about almost entirely about customer and product data as that has been their heritage and comfort zone, but there are plenty of opportunities fro MDM solutions to be applied outside these two domains. Indeed I recall that the very first MDM deployment of Kalido MDM, in 2002, was actually for finance and accounting data (general ledger etc) at a Dutch bank. Given the vast scale of an enterprise-wide MDM solution it seems to me wise to pick off specific domain areas where there is “low hanging fruit”, and at present most of the industry has been ignoring these other domains, at least in their marketing.

HP reels in Neoview

January 28, 2011

All of those puzzled as to why HP would enter the data warehouse appliance market with some time back Neoview now have an answer – they indeed should have stayed well clear. The old saying goes that if HP was to market sushi they would call it “cold, dead fish”, and the Neoview marketing team seemed to take this philosophy to heart. The product had only attracted a few customers, and I struggled to even find anyone in HP willing to talk about it.

HP finally put Neoview out of its misery this week. It is tough for companies to market technologies outside of their core business, and this is a good example of how even such a powerful company as HP can appear (to continue to tomrnet the tortured metaphor) like a fish out of water when it is not selling servers or printers (or printer cartridges, which I believe is where the money really is in that business).

There will be much chortling amongst competitors, but this is also a sign that the appliance market is pretty crowded, and that it is far from an easy one to succeed in, even fior a big fish like HP.

Data Quality Stories

January 6, 2011

Some entertaining tales of data quality issues in this article today. The full link is here:

It is remarkable how few companies make any effort at all to address data quality, which if left to fester can not only be embarassing to a company but also cost it real money. Yet in our surveys we see that barely a quarter of companies attempt to even measure their own data quality.

Happy New Year to all.

Benchmarking Data Governance

August 31, 2010

In talking recently to several companies that have data governance initiatives in place, it is clear that such initiatives costs a lot of money (an average of eleven full time people according to or latest survey) and that there is pressure on to identify whether such initiatives are delivering value. One difficulty here is in comparing your data governance to other – after all there is no “benchmark” available. We aim to change that situation, and have today launched a data governance benchmarking initiative, in conjunction with the Data Governance Institute.

If you have a data governance program, up and running, and want to see what you are doing compared to others, then please join this:

In return for a completed survey (it is lengthier than our usual surveys, but you “get what you pay for” with surveys i.e. the more information you provide, the greater range of analysis we can do) you will receive a free summary report of the findings. There will also be an opportunity to purchase an in-depth, customised study of your organization’s performance relative to others.

New Survey

June 30, 2010

We are just kicking off a major piece of research into data governance, at the heart of which is a survey. This survey has an impressive array of media sponsors and sponsors, and aims to get to the heart of what is going on in practice with data governance today, what level of effort is being put into it, and how successful is it. The survey will also address the linkage between governance and the key areas of MDM and data quality. If you have some background in this area then please participate in the survey.

As an added incentive, if you complete the survey then you be sent a summary of its results, and there are several of our vendor profiles (which costs $495) to be won via a prize draw.

Successful matching leads to marriage

March 28, 2010

Matching specialist Netrics was this week acquired by Tibco. Netrics offered a genuinely different technical approach to matching (with its bipartite graph technique) and, unusually, was designed to be embedded within other applications. Several MDM vendors did just this, and the feedback I have had is that the technology was easy to OEM and worked well in practice.

This is a good exit for Netrics shareholders but rather a shame that a different approach to matching has been taken off the market. Hopefully Tibco will continue to encourage other vendors to embed the technology, though inevitably vendors will be more nervous of doing this now.

Singing the MDM Blues

February 3, 2010

It has been a busy week on the MDM M&A front, as in addition to Informatica’s purchase of Siperian, IBM also opened its cheque book to buy Initiate, which was the largest independent MDM vendor. This is a further validation of the attractiveness of the MDM space. The financial terms were not disclosed, but Initiate was over twice as large as Siperian in revenue terms, so the deal size will have been significant. Initiate’s investors have been looking at an exit since they were forced to pull their planned IPO in adverse market conditions, so it is not entirely surprising that Initiate has been swallowed up.

What was somewhat more surprising is who did the swallowing. I had a feeling that SAP were a likely candidate to buy Initiate, given their current product-centric MDM product (based originally on content management vendor A2i). After all, IBM already has two MDM product lines, a customer hub (based originally on DWL) and a product hub (based originally on Trigo) that they are ever-so-slowly merging under the MDM Server banner. This is in addition to the MDM hierarchy management tool they obtained when they bought Cognos. Hence IBM was not exactly light on MDM products.

What is intriguing is the almost entirely vertical slant that IBM are putting on the Initiate purchase; their press release describes Initiate as a healthcare solution, with MDM not even mentioned. Initiate grew up in the healthcare sector, and has plenty of healthcare customers, but it was a marketed as a general purpose MDM customer hub. Customers outside healthcare include Microsoft, Barnes & Noble, Capital One and even Brent County Council.

It is intriguing to consider whether the Initiate technology will be incorporated in any way within the IBM MDM Server roadmap, or whether it will be treated as a stand-alone healthcare product. The style of the press release suggests the latter.

This significant move further enhances the value of the remaining independent MDM software vendors, since there are still plenty of large players out there who may wish to get into the fast-moving MDM space.

The Other Shoe Drops

January 29, 2010

I have been speculating for years now about when Informatica would finally enter the MDM marketplace. It is a leader in the integration space, and has good data quality offerings via its acquisitions of Similarity Systems, and more recently Identity Systems and Address Doctor. I am not sure why Informatica held off so long from gaining exposure to the fast growing MDM market, but its purchase of an MDM platform hub has seemed almost inevitable.

I most recently speculated about the eventual target being Siperian. Today the two finally tied the knot, with Infomatica buying Siperian for around $130 million in cash. I estimate that this is a revenue multiple of perhaps four times. This is a very logical purchase for both companies. Siperian has solid technology based on a flexible business model, and will be very complementary to Informatica’s data quality and integration offerings.

This acquisition further confirms the attractiveness of the MDM market, and is good news for the other MDM platform vendors. Market rumours are swirling as we speak about the purchase of Initiate (perhaps by IBM) and if this happens then it could be a gold rush to pick off the better quality independent companies. Despite many purchases already in this space, there are still plenty of potential further acquirers out there.