How Big Deals Affect MDM Competitors, Customers

Loraine Lawson

Wow, it's been a busy year for master data management (MDM). And it's only February.


First, Talend releases its open source MDM solution, then Informatica buys Siperian, and this week, IBM lived up to the rumors and acquired Initiate.


Who's next? And why should anyone care?


Well, besides the fact it's a bit fun to watch these deals unfold, there are a few reasons why you should care, if you're large enough to need an MDM solution or perhaps already vested in one.


First, if you're a Microsoft or SAP shop, IBM's move means those companies-along with HP and EMC - won't be snapping up Initiate or Siperian, both of which were the top MDM solutions in terms of maturity, according to Forrester principal analyst Rob Karel.


I recently interviewed Karel about this crazy MDM market. He expressed surprised that SAP hasn't acted yet, and he continued that theme in a blog post assessing the IBM deal:

SAP, while holding decent market share against IBM and Oracle, has been well behind in its ability to execute on its promise to be a fully heterogeneous multi-domain MDM platform that served app environments that were not primarily SAP. While SAP has made significant improvements in this area in the past few releases, and the acquisition of Business Objects enabled SAP to deliver somewhat integrated high end data quality and data integration capabilities, they could really have used the massive injection of top notch, proven MDM technology that a Siperian or Initiate acquisition could have enabled.

There are still plenty of other MDM vendors, but they tend to be more niche players, he added. So, this deal also raises questions about whether MDM can survive as a standalone offering, Karel said in our discussion. Perhaps, he suggested, MDM requires the sort of large sales and support infrastructure you get from bigger vendors.

But the general upheaval in MDM aside, the IBM deal is interesting in another way. IBM has downplayed this as an MDM acquisition, positioning it more as buying into two verticals, health care and a government. Gartner's Andrew White writes that at one point during the briefing, IBM was asked what the Initiate acquisition meant for MDM. IBM responded it reflects a "verticalization of MDM." White writes that's good news for health care customers, but "troubling for IBM MDM product strategy."


Karel also commented on the positioning, pointing out that while the majority of Initiate's customers are in health care and public-sector industries, they include a share of companies from other industries. Will there still be support for these verticals, he asked, or will those customers be pushed to move to IBM's MDM Server? In fact, Karel had a lot of questions about how this might affect current Initiate customers, so if you happen to be one, definitely read his post.


Clearly, the big vendors are taking notice of MDM and getting serious about the market. And with good reason: A recent survey by Baseline Consulting found that that approximately one-third of enterprises worldwide have undertaken more than two MDM implementations.


It seems as if 2010 really will be the year for MDM, just as predicted.

Add Comment      Leave a comment on this blog post
Feb 5, 2010 12:53 PM Frank Johnson Frank Johnson  says:

Also, Oracle acquired Silver Creek...

Jul 22, 2011 3:55 AM Camille Milby Camille Milby  says:

Oracle deserves to be the best in the business of providing secure databases. 100 % secure; the reason why I entrust them mine.

Camille regards tutoring services staff.

Jul 22, 2011 4:29 AM Marineth Cally Marineth Cally  says:

There are some very well-understood and easily identified master-data items, such as "customer" and "product." In fact, many define master data by simply reciting a commonly agreed upon master-data item list, such as: customer, product, location, employee, and asset. But how you identify elements of data that should be managed by a master-data management system is much more complex and defies such rudimentary definitions. In fact, there is a lot of confusion around what master data is and how it is qualified, necessitating a more comprehensive treatment.

Merineth Cally from Colleges Sydney

Jul 18, 2014 12:52 AM Ziad Abdelnour Ziad Abdelnour  says:
In general, many early stage companies compete with bigger companies. At the risk of oversimplifying the competitive dynamic…. • The early stage company’s advantages include: its focus, its product, and/or its team. • The bigger company’s advantages include: lots of capital / resources / employees, lots of customer relationships, good distribution, pricing power/patience. So early stage companies often face the threat of a bigger company entering their markets, and they need to have the self-confidence to keep going Reply

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