CDI (or is it MDM?) Summit

I recently presented at the CDI MDM summit in London, the first one in the UK and indeed only the second held at all (I also presented at the inaugural one in San Francisco in March this year). These conferences are the vehicle of the CDI Institute, set up by ex-META analyst Aaron Zornes. He seems in two minds as to whether to re-title them MDM from CDI, and so this one’s title stayed on the fence as “CDI MDM”. At some point Aaron will acknowledge that CDI is just a subset of MDM, but for now the fence straddling continues. Anyway, the title is less critical than the content, and the conference went quite well. There were supposedly 170 registrations, though this included vendors exhibiting, but there did seem to be up to 100 genuine customers at the session. The first day was a workshop where Aaron gave his personal views on the space and the leading vendors, while the second day was a mix of case studies from customer and vendor pitches of varying degrees of subtlety. It is remarkable how many vendors haven’t grasped that conference attendees do not want to hear direct sales pitches when they have paid to attend a conference; if they wanted a sales pitch they would invite the vendor to come to their office. SAP once again stayed away from the conference, which given the state of their current MDM offering was probably prudent.

The exhibits were pretty well attended and the case studies showed that there are some pioneers in the MDM area who are beginning to get some value from their projects, but equally clearly the space is very immature, with various vendors clambering on the MDM bandwagon despite these vendors having seemingly never heard of the term a year or two ago. As well as the pure MDM plays like Kalido, Siperian and Purisma, there were several data quality vendors like Initiate, Trillium and Datanomic, and the expected presence from IBM, Oracle and Hyperion. A number of systems integrators also turned up, but I have the impression that there are not enough major projects out there yet to have excited the big SIs. It seemed clear that the “more than just customer” message was winning, with more than one speaker highlighting the danger of developing silos of master data if one hub is set up for customer, one for product etc. It would indeed seem odd to go from one form of silo (by organisational unit) to another (by data type) when this is entirely unnecessary.

The conference organisers did a good job, with sessions staying to time, and the exhibit hall was laid out sensibly. With the general decline of conferences it was good to see one that clearly had captured some interest and was well run.