Benchmarking Data Governance

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:

http://informationdiff.data-governance-benchmarking.sgizmo.com/s3/

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.

The Wisdom of Oracles

I came across an intriguing poll today. A small company called Software Advice , who provide advice on evaluation of ERP and MRP systems, has been running an on-line poll about which software company Oracle will acquire next. The results of their poll so far (which is still open) is here.

What interested me most was not the actual poll results as such, but the way in which this poll has managed to attract a very high response rate (well over 1,000 responses). It could be viewed as an example of crowdsourcing, which is an idea explored by James Surowiecki in his book “The Wisdom of Crowds”. This is a fascinating idea, reasoning that in some cases a large sample of answers will actually generate a more accurate response than a supposed expert. Of course this method does not always work (Gary Kasparov beat thousands of players voting in a poll in a chess match against “the world” in 1999) but it seems like an idea that is worth further testing.

This is the first time I have seen this notion being applied to the world of enterprise software. There are plenty of other questions that could be tackled by such an approach, and I hope that this company or others extend this poll to other areas.

Low Hanging Fruit

EMC has entered the data warehouse appliance market via the purchase of Greenplum, who made good progress in the space with their massively parallel database (based on PostgresSQL). Greenplum had impressive reference customers and some of the highest end references out there in terms of sheer scale of data. They had also been one of the few vendors (Aster is another) that went early into embracing MapReduce, a framework designed for paralleism and suitable for certain types of complex processing.

Data warehouse appliances can be a tough sell because conservative buyers are nevous of making major purchases from saller comapnies, but the EMC brand will remove that concern. Also, EMC have a vast existing customer base and the sales channel that can exploit this. Seems like a sensible move to me.

New Survey

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.

Webinar

Our research shows that building a business case is one of the major barriers when putting together an MDM initiative. Some of this is due to people not knowing the correct information to present in order to make a convincing business case, and in other cases it is due to the difficulty in estimating costs and benefits. This is actually not rocket science.

Join me for a webinar this Wednesday (at 11 EST = 16:00 UK time) on how to build the business case for an MDM project. It contains lots of practical information to make a proper business case, including data from our latest research e.g. on how much MDM projects cost to maintain once live.

You can register for it here:

http://register.mdmdqu.com/forms/MDMDQURegistrationForm

It is even free!

Governing Data

This week I will be delivering the keynote speech at the IDQ Data Governance Conference in San Diego (funny how they never hold technology conferences in Detroit or Duluth). This promises to be an excellent event, with over 350 registered attendees, and plenty of movers and shakers in this emerging field. Data governance is the business-led strand that is beginning to bring together the hitherto curiously separate worlds of MDM and data quality, and it will be interesting to see what leading end-user companies are doing in this field.

Price is in the eye of the beholder

I enjoyed an article today by Boris Evelson OF Forrester, discussing whether a 20% or discount for BI software was “good” or “bad”. As Boris so correctly points out, vendors go to great lengths to keep secret the list price of their software, as they prefer to assess each pricing negotiation separately. Indeed most vendor contracts have a non-disclosure clause that prevents companies from sharing any pricing information.

Given this, what sense does a 20% (or 50%) discount make? None at all. If the vendor was offering an enterprise deal at USD 2 million initially, and you haggle and get them down to USD 1 million, that may make you feel good, but what if they had been prepared to settle for half a million all along? Vendors are aware that many corporate procurement people have targets to achieve a certain percentage over list, and in most industries that is clear enough. After all, if you wanted to buy a new Mercedes then you can just look up the list price. Then if you get 10% or 20% off that from the dealer it is clear what you have saved.

But if the list price is shrouded in mystery, discounts are meaningless. You need to achieve the lowest price that you can, and the only way for that to happen is to be in a competitive situation. As soon as a vendor knows that they are the sure-fired winner or (even better) the only bidder, then they can basically make up any number that they want and stick to it. I have been on both sides of multi-million dollar software negotiations, and I can assure you that companies frequently pay well over the odds, sometimes millions more than they have to, simply through foolish procurement practices.

You need a well structured evaluation, with several competing vendors, bidding against each other on price as the evaluation is proceeding. In this case you will see who really wants to offer you a good deal. I saw one bid drop from USD 12 million to under half that in a single day once the vendor was convinced that they were genuinely in competition.

I have put quite a few procurement tips together in one module of this course.

Successful matching leads to marriage

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.

Something for nothing

Get a discount to the upcoming data governance conference in San Diego.

In early June there is the annual Data Governance Conference:

http://www.debtechint.com/dg2010/

which this year is in the attractive setting of San Diego (the place with perhaps the best climate in the USA). Naturally as a conference delegate you will be influenced solely by the agenda and the speaker quality rather than the prospect of a sunny location, but I just thought I’d mention it.

There will be some excellent speakers, and also me giving the keynote. As a reader of this blog I am happy to offer you a discount should you be able to attend. Just quote the following code when booking: IDDG100 – please be aware that this code expires on May 7th.

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.