How CIOs Can Cut Through the Cloud MDM Hype

Loraine Lawson

CIOs should focus on their company’s priorities and ask for proof-of-concepts from MDM vendors, advises Gartner Research Vice President and MDM expert Andrew White. In the first part of this interview with IT Business Edge’s Loraine Lawson, he explained what Informatica means by cloud MDM, as well as the common mistakes companies make when starting MDM. 

Lawson: I know I’ve seen the term “cloud MDM” used by other vendors besides Informatica. What do they mean?

White: There’s at least Orchestra Networks. They have a hosted cloud offering. They’ve got like five to eight customers, apparently, mostly doing real MDM as opposed to just customer data. So enterprise-wide product customer location, but they're generally POCs (proof of concepts) or the end users are just testing and playing the technology before they actually go internally to do it properly, if you will.

Then almost every other vendor doesn’t necessarily officially offer a cloud offering, but almost every vendor you meet will say, “Well, we can do it if the customer asks, but nobody’s asking.”

Lawson: What do vendors other than Orchestra Networks and Informatica mean when they say cloud MDM? Do they mean running the software in the cloud? The technology?

White: They mean software as a service. They don’t really mean multitenant, they don’t really mean totally interoperable. You’ve still got to integrate. You’ve still got to discover. You’ve still got to harmonize.

Lawson: Do you think that we’ll be hearing more about this concept? That it’ll become something that vendors try to sell? What’s your feeling for where the market could be headed with this cloud MDM concept?

White: It’s definitely going to grow. You’ve got two topics here. Cloud is going to grow consistently and increase growth for a range of issues or a range of drivers — nothing to do with MDM, but it’s faster, it’s more accessible. It gives you many more options as an organization. So cloud itself is going to drive a lot of hype.

MDM is going to grow because of, not just cloud, but mobile and Big Data. Everybody’s ramping up their demands of information, but the degree to which it’s trustworthy, the degree to which it’s valuable or how much value it’s worth — that question is beginning to become obvious and that’s really exciting for MDM people because that means they're going to be real busy, even busier than they were.

So cloud and MDM are going to ramp up in hype, and specifically cloud MDM, yes, that will also ramp up. I don’t think it’s going to be the panacea, because again, Informatica markets this as cloud MDM. Well, a good 40 percent of the market is going to knock on their door and say, “Well, where’s the product data?” And they're going to say, “Well, we don’t do that yet.” So they're going to walk away. So it’s not cloud MDM at all; it’s poorly named.

Lawson: What about the Orchestra Networks?

White: Yes, they do multi-domain and they’ve got about eight or so customers who are doing POCs and pilots who are doing it as a first step before going internally and doing it properly, if you will. I think that’s going to ramp up quickly because it is a quick way to test the technology and it will expose some of the challenges that you will have to adopt as a program manager. “How big is this problem going to look? How do I get business people to use this stuff? I mean, that’s a lot of effort.” So it opens up eyes, which is a good thing.

It just plays into the ease of use, time to value, low cost of entry. It plays into that vein and MDM is a hot topic and anybody that says, “I can help you do it easier,” is going to get leads. Whether it’s an enterprise-wide solution that has all the change management — that’s where the hype won’t meet the reality. But it will still grow in hype and attractiveness and lots more people will be trying it for sure.

Lawson: So what is the takeaway for CIOs on this right now? You just gave me one example of where hype would not meet reality. Any other areas or caveats?

White: Our usual advice is to focus on priorities, such as which type of information is impacting or holding back which initiatives in the business. If it is customers and new customers and prospecting over financial data integrity and you're a sales organization, then, yes, I think they're going to look at these things and they need to develop their own information strategy and information architecture.

Too many companies buy Siebel or ERP and they assume that brings with them an information strategy or an information architecture and it doesn’t. It brings an application strategy — well, one.

Be practical; be very clear on the priorities of where you want to govern data. Don’t govern it all. Take baby steps. Govern one master data object at a time and prove a concept. Do lots of hands-on demos with these tools to make sure that what you see is what your business stewards are going to get, because they’ve got to use these things for 30 minutes a week. If they use it for a day a week, they're going to throw it at you. It won’t work. So it’s got to be easy to use and integrate and so on. They're not falling for the hype, but that doesn’t mean vendors aren’t going to keep going.

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May 30, 2013 9:27 AM Ashraf Ashraf  says:
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