Gartner recently released its annual Magic Quadrant for Data Quality Tools report, and the relative quality of the tools themselves seems not to have shifted much in the last 12 months -- at least based on the general absence of year-over-year changes. The same five vendors -- DataFlux (a division of SAS Institute), IBM, Informatica, SAP BusinessObjects, and Trillium Software (a division of Harte-Hanks) — landed in the analyst firm's Leaders Quadrant, with the only significant move represented by a dramatic decrease in Gartner's rating of SAP's ability to execute.
According to Ted Friedman, the Gartner vice president and analyst who co-authored the report with colleague Andreas Bitterer, the weak economy is driving customers toward "bread-and-butter" tools -- the sort readily available from the leading vendors. Despite an acknowledged commitment to building out a wide portfolio of data quality tools, however, Friedman says that the leading providers still suffer from a bit of a messaging problem in the marketplace. "Vendors have done a reasonably poor job in that they could get better at articulating the true business value [of data quality solutions]," he says.
The Gartner analyst notes that vendors tend to talk about functionality in terms of technological advances, rather than conveying how that technology actually supports the business infrastructure. Friedman also notes that, in general, vendors could get better at articulating how tools support initiatives such as information governance and regulatory compliance -- two notable industry trends.
Friedman also says the market could benefit from expanding beyond customer data. "The demand for noncustomer data is really here and now," Friedman says, citing studies indicating a significant rise in the level of interest in product data, financial data, and other noncustomer data.
Aside from the five providers in the Leaders segment -- which, according to Gartner's methodology, provide the most functionality and address wider business problems -- all but three of the other vendors included in the 2009 Magic Quadrant are deemed Niche Players, which means they each address only a small slice of data quality. Friedman says he wouldn't be surprised to see a wave of merger-and-acquisition activity during the next 12 months to 24 months.
The data quality A-Team remains the same from 2008, with a little shifting caused by innovation and acquisition from Informatica, and a slip in customer satisfaction with SAP BusinessObjects.
- DataFlux: Known for its depth and breadth of solutions, the SAS Institute subsidiary has become the standard for enterprisewide data quality in many large accounts. Friedman reports that DataFlux has 1,200 customers. Although DataFlux provides a well-rounded list of capabilities, Friedman notes that customer satisfaction could be higher and that frankly many customers are displeased with the solution's high price point.
- IBM: Friedman notes that the vendor approaches the data quality on a number of important fronts. It helps, he writes, that the solution is, "backed by one of the world's best-known brands and strong sales, consulting, service and support functions." On the cautionary side, Friedman points out IBM's data quality message tends to get lost among the vendors newer "information agenda" theme. Additionally, some customers have expressed dissatisfaction with the expense of the solution.
- Informatica: It's been a momentous two years for Informatica. Having made it into the Leaders quadrant for the first time in 2007, last year the vendor extended further in terms of completeness of vision. Informatica is poised to continue that growth throughout 2009, Friedman notes, thanks in part to its June purchase of address-validation company AddressDoctor, which should expand its offerings and momentum. Friedman writes, however, that Informatica finds itself increasingly competing against much larger infrastructure vendors with broader product sets, including MDM, BI, and other capabilities.
- SAP BusinessObjects: The vendor has a large base of tools that complement SAP's MDM solution, which the company's roadmap promises will see deeper integration with technologies acquired with BusinessObjects. Friedman writes that BusinessObjects provides a good breadth of functional data quality capabilities, including data profiling and common data-cleansing operations. On the downside, Friedman says that SAP did not fare well in terms of customer satisfaction. "Some of that is owing to the turbulence created by the acquisition of BusinessObjects [in October 2007]," Friedman says. Some of that is owing to SAP in its sorting out and rationalizing prices." Moreover, consumers expressed unhappiness with technological support and professional services, and most importantly, were not pleased with the cost structure.
- Trillium Software: A division of Harte-Hanks, Trillium provides a broad suite of tools and a data quality dashboard platform. "Trillium is attempting to expand its positioning and capabilities beyond core data quality functions toward what it calls 'Data Intelligence and Governance (DIG),' " Friedman writes, "offering a combination of technology and professional services aimed at data governance initiatives in the financial services industry." The unit has high brand recognition and solid customer retention, yet suffers in its ability to only collect customer data. Trillium has lately focused on appealing to nontechnical business users; Friedman points out, however, that although Trillium's ease-of-use measures are commendable, its users still have to wield specialized technical skills. Oracle recently partnered with the company for its data quality offerings, but Friedman says he still believes that Trillium needs to expand its capabilities to remain competitive.
- Pitney Bowes Business Insight: remains a challenger despite its limited functionality in serving customer address and mailing challenges.
- Datanomic: appears in the Visionaries segment for the first time.
- Human Interference
- Innovative Systems
Friedman says that he expects some new faces may appear in next year's report. Microsoft, for one, is still developing the technology picked up in last summer's Zoomix acquisition, but could soon bring its data quality offering to market. Friedman also says he wouldn't be surprised to see megavendor Oracle try to expand its data quality footprint in the next year. He notes that today Oracle today has a pretty disjointed partnership strategy for data quality -- the company has a partnership with Trillium, but Friedman says he isn't ruling out the chances of Oracle acquiring a data quality player.
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