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.


It is a big day for me today, as I have decided to move from Kalido to pursue other interests. Kalido has come a long way since I encountered some original generic modeling research at Shell in 1996 that I could see had massive potential to provide Shell with integrated information from across the world throughout business change. After success at Shell with the software, I set up a business unit to commercialize Kalido, resulting in Kalido being set up as an independent company in 2001, and, with the backing of major venture capitalists, subsequently spun off from Shell in 2003. By this time it was clear that the next phase of growth for the company was to become successful in the US market, the largest in the world, and as I am based in the UK, I handed over the reins of CEO, and assumed the role of customer champion, company spokesperson and chief strategist. There has been no shortage of projects to work on, and I have thoroughly enjoyed continuing to raise the public profile of Kalido, but now that a new CEO – Bill Hewitt – has come on board to take the company to its next level of growth, I felt it was the right time for me to move on. Bill Hewitt has exactly the right background in enterprise software to take the company to the great commercial success that it deserves.

I have immensely enjoyed building Kalido up from an idea to a company with tremendous potential, and I look forward to seeing its continuing success. It has been an exhilarating experience for me, above all because I have had the privilege of working with a group of highly talented and committed individuals. It has been an immense pleasure to see so many examples of real business benefit in customer projects that have deployed Kalido in over 100 countries. The success that the company has enjoyed so far has been based on a passion for customer success and the high quality of its people, and is something I am extremely proud to have been associated with.

I intend to initially do some independent consulting and do a little writing. This blog, of course, will live on!