What Sluggish Product Master Data Management Sales Say About the Economy

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    Here’s an odd economic indicator for you: Sales of master data management for product data grew only 8.7 percent last year. By comparison, MDM for customer data grew 12.2 percent.

    That’s more than a 2 percent difference favoring customer data MDM, which suggests, according to Gartner’s market data, “that end users are, on the whole, comfortable with economic growth.”

    Maybe, but I think this conclusion from the report is a safer bet: “Appreciation of the business value of MDM, which, though increasing, is still severely lacking.”

    Oddly, MDM for product data as an idea is ancient, at least in terms of IT time. It has established use cases in supply chains, manufacturing and health care, where it’s used to standardize on one product definition. This, in turn, reduces duplicate orders and overstocking of supplies. You can see why it would be more popular when companies are trying to find ways to clip costs.

    Even so, MDM of product data is still a $532 million market.  Outside Gartner’s parameters, it could be worth more, depending on whether Gartner counts the vendors it has kicked out of this report in recent years.

    Gartner uses a fairly strict definition of MDM deployments, excluding several types of vendors “because they are either tangential to the main focus of MDM programs (mastering data within an organization) or so new that they have yet to effect on-premises MDM deployments.” That on-premise MDM deployment means you won’t find cloud-delivery models on the quadrant, though they are listed under the Appendix Table 3 as “Other Vendors Relevant to the MDM of Product Data Market Segment.”

    As you can imagine, cloud MDM providers aren’t too happy with that aspect of the report. After my post last year on the annual report, Robert Fox, who is now at MuleSoft but was then a VP of Application Development at Liaison Technologies, shared his thoughts on this omission via reader comments:

    “We at Liaison have been deliverying a high quality, full-featured MDM solution using a SaaS/Cloud model for a decade, but in the opinion of Gartner, cloud is too immature to deliver a true MDM solution. I bring this up, since we were disqualified from participating in the magic quadrant for our delivery model, and not our actual product capabilities. Meanwhile, 451 Research publishes cloud adoption will reach $20 billion by 2016. At some point, the analyst views on MDM will need to change to match that of the market.”

    I’d wager that cloud vendors aren’t the only ones with some beefs about Gartner’s approach. Multidomain MDM vendors also are excluded from this report, or the companion Magic Quadrant for customer data. That leaves out a good number of vendors who previously ranked in these quadrants.

    Despite the growing number of multidomain vendors, Gartner is sticking to its assertion that “a multidomain MDM Magic Quadrant would be premature.” The reasons are … complicated, but include:

    • Most companies still buy MDM for specific data domains, rather than investing in multidomain MDM.
    • Many vendors market MDM but their products don’t conform to Gartner’s definition of MDM technology. Gartner notes that there are “many gaps in their capabilities for, and experience of, handling every data domain.”

    If you’re looking for a product MDM solution, you might want to evaluate whether these are reasons enough to limit yourself to Gartner’s recommendations. If you disagree, then you’ll find the cloud and multidomain options, as well as other niche solutions, listed under the Appendix.

    Beyond this now annual issue over multidomain and cloud, the big change this year is the addition of Sigma Systems, which was added after acquiring Tribold. Originally, Tribold only sold its MDM of product data solution to one industry (telecom), but Sigma has opened up sales to multiple industries. Still, it ranks as a niche player.

    Overall, the quadrant changed very little. SAP MDG-M and hybris, an SAP company, shifted into the challenger quadrant, which was empty last year. The other vendors moved a bit within their quadrants, with the leaders being:

    • Oracle Product Hub (EBS)
    • IBM (InfoSphere MDM Collaborative edition)
    • Stibo Systems
    • Riversand
    • Tibco Software

    You can see the full magic quadrant image on Tibco’s site, which allows you to zoom in on the graphic. You’ll also find an image of the customer data MDM magic quadrant on that page. I’m sure many of the vendors included offer free downloads of the report, but it first turned up for me through an Informatica press release. You can go straight to the download form, if you prefer.

    Loraine Lawson is a veteran technology reporter and blogger. She currently writes the Integration blog for IT Business Edge, which covers all aspects of integration technology, including data governance and best practices. She has also covered IT/Business Alignment and IT Security for IT Business Edge. Before becoming a freelance writer, Lawson worked at TechRepublic as a site editor and writer, covering mobile, IT management, IT security and other technology trends. Previously, she was a webmaster at the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet and a newspaper journalist. Follow Lawson at Google+ and on Twitter.

    Loraine Lawson
    Loraine Lawson
    Loraine Lawson is a freelance writer specializing in technology and business issues, including integration, health care IT, cloud and Big Data.

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