DataFlux Unifies Its Tools

Step aside IBM and Informatica; it's now DataFlux's time to hold the megaphone. Rather than announcing an acquisition like its aforementioned competitors, DataFlux is bringing forth a new data management platform that will bridge the gaps among its data quality, data integration, and master data management (MDM) tools. The DataFlux Data Management Platform, according to Daniel Teachey, senior director of marketing for DataFlux, will foster collaboration within the enterprise and unite both business and technical analysts under one interface. 

Teachey says, until now, data management efforts had been done on a very project basis. For instance, an enterprise might have a group using a data quality tool in one department, and then another area such as sales or marketing would be using an MDM tool. The projects were disconnected. The new DataFlux platform, however, is a collaborative interface that allows teams to work together, share data rules, and advance in their efforts toward MDM. 

Creating a cohesive platform and strategy for multiple data products may sound familiar. Earlier this month IBM and Informatica made purchases of MDM vendors to expand data management offerings. Teachey, states that although the timing was in line with activity from its competitors, the DataFlux Data Management Platform solution had been in the works for about a year. And unlike its acquisition-hungry competitors, DataFlux was able to put forth the solution without a bid and subsequent growing pains. "This is not a tech buy; this isn't us plugging a gap. We are taking what we had done beforehand at SAS and DataFlux and putting it into one platform," Teachey says.  "Instead of spending the next 12-24 months integrating, we have already built everything in-house, and it's one platform right now."

"DataFlux is trying to get ahead of what is a pretty apparent trend in the marketplace where these discreet technology markets -- data integration, data quality, and MDM -- are rapidly converging," says Gartner analyst Ted Friedman. There still is standalone demand in each of the three spaces, Friedman says, but he sees that starting to change. "The writing is on the wall: Buyers in markets... are now looking for more comprehensive solutions." 

In addition to the data management platform, DataFlux announced a DataFlux Connect product that provides a packaged set of components that enable integration with common business applications, such as SAS, SAP and Siebel. Friedman says he imagines that SAS chose to put the offerings under the DataFlux branding for several reasons. One, SAS is tightly associated with BI and analytics, not data integration like DataFlux. "It would be difficult for SAS to go to market with a comprehensive data quality offering and sell things that have nothing to do with BI and analytics," Friedman says. Second, Friedman points out that maybe DataFlux has a better opportunity to strike partnerships -- perhaps even BI companies that need data integration -- that would otherwise be viewed as competitors of SAS. 

Teachey emphasizes that a big push in its product development has been oriented toward the business analyst-type user. "Half our user base is business users," he says. Increasingly, Teachey says he sees more business people in charge of data quality and data governance. "If you have business people in charge, and tools that are IT focused, there's a gap," he says. The Data Management Platform fills that gap, pairing both tools for the business person and more technology-rich features for the IT user.

Friedman says ease of use has always been one of DataFlux's hallmarks. "Hopefully they can retain the good ease of use and the good customer service and support," Friedman says. "If they can do those things then it's another positive thing they can bring to the table when competing with the much larger incumbent players." Competition will undoubtedly heat up, Friedman says, with IBM, Informatica, Oracle, and SAP offering much of what DataFlux does. Last year, DataFlux unveiled an MDM for customer data tool, which placed on the weaker end of Gartner's last Magic Quadrant for MDM on the scale of "ability to execute." Friedman says he imagines DataFlux will have to beef up its MDM strategy in the wake of the changing marketplace. 

"They will be forced to compete if they want to make a go," he says. "They will have to make it more robust and take it into the non-customer domains." 

Teachey insists DataFlux's niche is still data quality -- and that its real focus is on quick time-to-value with its solutions.  "We're still seen as a best-of-breed specialist," he says. "We don't want to sell servers and we don't want to sell gigantic data integration framework." 

News relevant to the customer relationship management industry is posted several times a day on destinationCRM.com, in addition to the news section Insight that appears every month in the pages of CRM magazine.

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