The data quality space is becoming crowded with niche players and boutique vendors, but the big five enterprise leaders seem to be holding on with tight grips. "The big providers offer end-to-end functionality and it goes very deep. They offer a wide variety of interfaces," explains Frank Dravis, senior consultant with Baseline Consulting. The leaderboard has sported the usual suspects for a few years now, but could soon see a shakeup, Dravis says. "You have this next ripple-low-to-midsize players-ramping up. They don't have nearly the capabilities of the enterprise players, but they have...just enough functionality with a price point that's pleasing," Dravis says. According to his Baseline colleague Jill Dyché, "some of the data quality offerings on the market are still just tools-some are business solutions," she says. "Part of why some of these companies are going to get higher scores is because they can have the business conversation with their customers.... Vendors can only talk about address cleansing for so long before people start to roll their eyes."
No one can accuse IBM Information Integration Systems (IBM IIS) of lacking depth of functionality. The Big Blue unit once again scored high in that category-and that was before the July offer to buy predictive analytics pioneer SPSS. However, Dyché says that what IBM IIS has in depth, it lacks in innovation, and it struggles to communicate its message to customers. Dyché says the data quality solution is rumored to be complex and hard to use. "They use big words about the InfoSphere product which includes data quality as a dessert topping and as a floor wax-it does everything,"Dyché says. IBM makes it hard to see its product clearly, which boils down to not establishing a clear data quality strategy.
"Informatica is embracing data quality behaviorally," Dyché says. The vendor's scores boasted the biggest year-over-year improvements, and Dravis says it has been diligently working on its product. "In one or two years they will be the hands-down person to beat in the marketplace," he says. "Right now they are emerging and DataFlux is fighting them." With the acquisition of Identity Systems in April 2008, the roadmap wasn't crystal clear. "They are now baking data quality into the offering,"Dyché says, adding that "Informatica customers love Informatica."
SAP received high scores across the board for its SAP BusinessObjects unit, especially in terms of functionality. "[SAP BusinessObjects has] got the best functionality on the market," Dravis says. "They can do everything everyone [else] can and something more.... With the recent release, they've improved ease-of-use dramatically, which brought them up to par with [DataFlux]." The main challenge may be parent company SAP. "It's all about integration into the SAP infrastructure and I just don't see the marketing emphasis on the solution set," Dravis says. "They baked the logic stuff into core SAP functionality," Dyché notes. And yet, she adds, "A lot of what SAP talks about isn't happening with its customers."
With Harte-Hanks' Trillium Software, Dravis says, "status quo" is the name of the game. "They don't have the depth and breadth of an IBM, which is a knock on their depth of functionality," he says.Dravis adds that Trillium's data quality offering is based on old technology and its implementation solution for services-oriented architecture is relatively thin. And Trillium, he says, is still constrained by the fact that its software comes from Harte-Hanks, which has to adopt the more-complex software development model that has become the industry standard. On the plus side, Dyché says, Trillium clients "are generally pretty happy with what they're doing, but most aren't doing anything more than last year."
SAS Institute's DataFlux easily took top honors yet again, with customer satisfaction rising from 4.0 to 4.4. "SAS has [given DataFlux] free range to pursue its own marketing and direction," Dravis says, adding that DataFlux offers 90 percent of the functionality that all customers want, and 100 percent of what the bulk of them want-a hard-to-beat ratio. "They have a dedicated organization that does continual customer outreach and ropes people in and gets people to tell their stories,"Dyché notes."DataFlux has an unbelievable reference program." -Lauren McKay
One to Watch - Data Quality
Pitney Bowes Business Insight (PBBI) finds itself with a new name-thanks to a January 2009 rebranding-but in the same spot as last year. Focusing mostly on address and mailing cleansing, the vendor isn't able to compete with the leaders in terms of depth. At one point in time, analysts note, The Units Now Known As PBBI were in real contention. "They've really pulled back from five to six years ago, and I haven't seen them emerge at all," Dravis says. "It's like they're trying to do things on inertia and on a shoestring." Dyché notes, however, that PBBI's customers seem happy and that the company has made some plays in the geospatial area. Whether the division will aim higher or embed itself comfortably as a niche player remains to be seen, but for now, Dyché says, PBBI is "all over the map."
CLICK HERE to view PDF of 2009 Market Leaders comparison chart.