DataFlux Has the Edge in Gartner's Magic Quadrant on Data Quality Tools

The marketplace depicted in this year's "Magic Quadrant for Data Quality Tools" from industry research firm Gartner presents little upheaval from last year's results -- the same five companies are named Leaders. The new report does highlight one notable new trend, however: the expansion of capabilities provided by the data quality (DQ) tools.

Increased flexibility and functionality of DQ offerings represents a market that, according to Gartner analysts and report authors Ted Friedman and Andreas Bitterer, continues to steadily grow and evolve. Leading the way in terms of ability to execute are DataFlux (a division of SAS Institute) and Business Objects (now a part of SAP), with Dataflux edging its France-based rival in its completeness of vision. The other three residents in the Leaders quadrant are IBM and Informatica, close behind, and Trillium Software (a Harte-Hanks company) some distance behind in terms of completeness of vision. 

One big mover within the Leaders segment is Informatica, particularly in terms of execution after completing its acquisition of Identity Systems, a provider of identity-resolution software, in May. "Informatica increased its market presence in the past 12 months, adding a significant number of new customers for data qualities," Friedman and Bitterer write. They say a key to Informatica's continued success will be integrating and matching the newly acquired products to its existing DQ product.

Integrating functionality may well be a theme for all the included vendors. "Much convergence of technology has occurred, and today vendors offer more functionality within a smaller number of discrete products," the authors write. "Most vendors have consolidated the bulk of their core data quality functionality into a single data-cleansing platform, with data profiling remaining the only major functional component commonly sold as a separate product." Aside from that consolidation of functions, the report also draws attention to the added capabilities leading DQ offerings are sporting these days. One significant area of innovation is in DQ assessment and monitoring technology, and the emergence of holistic solutions to help companies measure and monitor data quality. 

Friedman and Bitterer write that software-as-a-service DQ products are also garnering attention in the competitive market, as organizations look for hosted solutions to accompany and integrate with already-in-place on-premise software. Noted in 2007's report, too, the Gartner analysts relay that organizations are seeking solutions for nonconventional datatypes, beyond customer data. 

As for the quadrants themselves, what changes there are this year are mainly cosmetic in nature -- several are due to recent acquisitions. Group 1 Software has finally been renamed Pitney Bowes Software, years after its 2004 acquisition -- and it has the Challengers quadrant all to itself. Also gone from the list is Fuzzy! Informatik, which was gobbled up by Business Objects in September 2007 while Business Objects itself was being acquired by SAP.

In the Niche Player quadrant, vendors are again identical to last year's report; however, there appears to be more clustering and tightening of competition:

  • DataLever
  • Uniserv
  • Innovative Systems
  • DataMentors
  • Datanomic
  • Netrics
  • Datactics

There's just one vendor listed in the Visionaries quadrant: Human Inference, which misses the Leaders list becuase of a slight lag inability to execute.

Friedman and Bitterer predict that acquisitions will increasingly shake up the DQ space in upcoming years, as vendors adjust to new software and succeed -- or struggle -- in putting the new parts to work. Acquisitions and new partnerships will also change the expectations of (and demands for) DQ as vendors expand functionality. The analysts write, "SAP's acquisition of Business Objects brings significant data quality tools into the SAP portfolio for the first time, while Informatica's acquisition of Identity Systems continues the trend of small data quality specialists being subsumed into the portfolios of larger players in this market."

Compared to its status in 2007, DataFlux made a slight move up on the "ability to execute" ladder. Friedman and Bitterer note that DataFlux has firmly established itself in the market and is now a distinguished brand. However, the report notes that in order to build upon its prowess, the vendor needs to expand its portfolio and messaging beyond data quality. DataFlux has made efforts to enter the MDM market, the analysts write, but it remains solely known in the marketplace for its DQ technologies. 

In addition to naming the top contenders in the DQ tools market, the report goes on to mention 32 specialty vendors that bring certain features to the table. "Many vendors provide products that address one very specific data quality problem, such as address cleansing and validation," Friedman and Bitterer write, "but cannot support other types of applications, or lack the full breadth of functionality expected in today's data quality solutions."

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