Singing the MDM Blues

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.

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