When you are in a hole, stop digging

SAP continues to score own goals around its troubled MDM offering.  At a Las Vegas conference the usually well-informed and ever-urbane Shai Agassi explained to attendees how MDM was critical to the success of SOA.  All true, but this runs up against the unfortunate problem that SAP’s own MDM offering is, to put it politely, not one of the current stars of their software firmament.  As noted in the article, despite SAP’s huge customer base and famed account control, they are hard pressed to rustle up a few customer references.  It is actually worse than that.  I know for a fact that an SAP customer was, just weeks ago, told that the SAP MDM offering would not be ready for effective production use for at least 18 months.  The customer was not told that by one of SAP’s competitors, but by SAP themselves at a private briefing in Walldorf. It seems that this news has yet to fully spread even amongst SAP.  The SAP MDM product marketing manager is quoted as saying the customer base is “quietly increasing”, which in the usually ultra-spun lingo of product managers translates as less than wild enthusiasm and delight.  IBM Global Services make a stack of money from implementing SAP, so when they say “it’s very difficult to find the customers using the software” then they probably mean it. 

I found it pretty revealing when SAP didn’t even show up at either of the CDI/MDM conferences run earlier this year by Aaron Zornes (one in San Francisco, one in London). This at least seemed a prudent approach.  Let’s face it, all software companies have some things go better than others, so if you are struggling with a particular product then it seems sensible to keep your head down, avoid publicity and get on with fixing the issues rather than calling attention to the problem.  This is what makes this high profile “MDM is key” speech seem either very bold indeed, or a bit of a gaffe (or, as they say at Real Madrid, a bit of a Woodgate). 



4 thoughts on “When you are in a hole, stop digging”

  1. Andy – I work for SAP. I am in charge of the products that include MDM at SAP. So my statements will be strong from your point of view.

    Simply put: your statements about SAP MDM are inaccurate. It also appears that you are a founder of Kalido, a company that positions itself as a SAP MDM competitor. Interesting.

    Firstly, you are wrong about MDM’s progress. MDM more than doubled in revenue last year, one of the largest growths in the company last year. Customer base also more than doubled. Given SAP’s large revenue base and installed base, this is substantial. We don’t break out specifics for product lines in general, which is why I cannot give you numbers. Before you conclude that this is due to something we have to hide: it is not. It is a general financial policy of SAP to not disclose product line revenue, with few exceptions from time to time. Exceptions are approved only by the Board of the company. I can also give you similar numbers for live customers, references, as well as customers in projects (as in deployments). As far as provding references on SAP MDM: we provide such references only for our customers, partners and sales organizations. So my apologies, but we are not interested in proving anything here on this forum.

    Your statement that we were not present at Aaron Zornes’ CDI conference is also incorrect. I was personally there, and co-presented with Intel. We had a booth there and demonstrated not just our MDM solution but some unique service offerings around Strategic Data Services which sets us apart from pretty much everyone.

    I welcome insightful blogs on enterprise software. Unfortunately this is not one of them.

    Nimish Mehta

  2. When you say “integrating” I assume you mean at the conceptual level (rather than physically)? I think that a key element is an enterprise architecture that recognises the various components that a enterprise needs and where they fit. In particular such an architecture should recognise the differences between operational processing and business intelligence/data warehousing. For example SAP BW is a good operational data store for single SAP instances, but is not well suited as a general purpose data warehouse (which Kalido is good at). A further component is master data management, which in my opinion requires a separate repository altogether i.e. this should not just be treated as part of either a data warehouse or a particular ERP system. The master data repository can act as a feed mechanism into an enterprise service bus, which in turn can supply master data to either operational systems like SAP or data warehouses like Kalido.

    Feel free to repost or email me if this requires more discussion or my answer doesn’t make sense to you (andy.hayler@epoisseenterprises.com).

  3. So I have a story the other way around: One of our clients is having a hard-time integrating Kalido MDM and DIW with SAP ERP, BI and Portals? Any guidance, light, recommendations on where to start and What is the roadmap to achieve this neat integration?

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