IBM and Oracle Lead Gartner's 'MDM for Customer Data' Magic Quadrant

Although master data management (MDM) is only just now beginning to squeeze its way out of the early-adoption phase, MDM for customer data is one particular segment that seems to have already taken hold. In the Gartner Research 2008 Magic Quadrant for MDM for Customer Data, analyst John Radcliffe writes that "the term 'MDM for customer data system' is proliferating." Originally referred to as "customer data integration (CDI) hubs," Gartner has changed its term -- and the name of its Magic Quadrant -- to reflect the firm's conclusion that customer data products are more accurately characterized as part of an overall MDM strategy.

Radcliffe notes that, despite the name change, there hasn't been much shifting among vendors since last year -- no dramatic falls or climbs. In the top quadrant, IBM and Oracle once again stake leadership roles in terms of ability to execute and completeness of vision. Initiate Systems nips at the leaders' toes, positioned fairly high up in the Visionaries segment. Siperian, another Visionary, led all vendors in terms of completeness of vision.

This particular Magic Quadrant focuses solely on MDM for customer data,which, according to Radcliffe, is a division that has gained -- and continues to gain -- enterprise interest. Perhaps the most notable trend in MDM, Radcliffe adds, is the growing complexity of the product offerings: As different industries recognize the need to bring together once-siloed data, those with customer-facing needs use MDM in various dimensions:

  • for its ability to provide a single view of the customer in real time across multiple channels;
  • for enhanced and more accurate reporting abilities; or
  • for cross-selling and upselling opportunities.

"When creating and managing a single, trusted, shareable view of the customer, many organizations and vendors originally thought that CRM, [enterprise resource management], or vertical-industry systems would solve this problem," Radcliffe writes in the report. "But those systems weren't designed for the task, and the often created additional silos." He goes on to explain that MDM for customer data can provide benefits such as increased revenue, improved customer experience and loyalty, and reductions in both cost and compliance risk.

"People like Oracle's Siebel, IBM, and Initiate continue to strengthen positions in terms of ability to execute, but they are a bit behind in terms of getting new functionality out the door," Radcliffe contends, noting that the most movement took place in the Visionaries segment, with Siperian's focus on releasing new technology and innovation. "We are crediting them with continuing to have good vision and to come out with different kinds of functionality in [human resources], data governance, and the workflow management area before other people did," Radcliffe says. He adds that Purisma, which rests on the line between Niche Players and Visionaries in this year's report, may have more room to grow now that it's been acquired by Dun & Bradstreet, without being bogged down by liability issues. 

Radcliffe says that, in this marketplace, he sees organizations increasingly looking toward the best-of-breed vendors offering specific differentiations, rather than toward the megavendors claiming to offer the whole package. Among those more-specialized options, five vendors are positioned in the Niche Players segment:

  • SAP
  • Oracle (customer data hub)
  • Sun Microsystems
  • Tibco Software
  • DataFlux

Radcliffe says that Tibco -- which makes its debut in that quadrant and has often fared well in evaluations of MDM for product data -- is broadening its value proposition to include customer data. And even though DataFlux, a well-known data quality vendor and a subsidiary of SAS Institute, landed low in the Niche Players quadrant with an MDM solution that extended its existing offering, Radcliffe says that continual emphasis on the product package should boost DataFlux's position on the quadrant in upcoming years. "They do have a package product but so far they have not pushed it very hard," he says.  

"What I expect from major players is basically them making a lot of noise about the wider MDM story and positioning themselves as the people who can help an organization in any kind of MDM requirement," Radcliffe says. "[The market]'s very wide and deep. Increasingly, [vendors] will be saying, 'We can do anything.' " However, he points out, at the moment, they can't do everything, which means buyers generally still need to piece together multiple products. 

When talking about trends in the market, Radcliffe says that analytics will be a big growth area going forward. "Over the next year or two there will be great interest in how we use MDM in the analytics area and complement existing investments in [business intelligence] and data warehousing," he says. "What people are finding is that you may say, 'Well, I've got a data warehouse and that has a wonderful single version of the truth,' but in most organizations, you have multiple data warehouses and they come from different places." He suggests that MDM can help bridge gaps with enterprises owning multiple CRM systems and multiple data domains and data marts.

Another interesting trend given attention in Radcliffe's report is Sun Microsystems' use of open source with MDM. Sun's open-source community, called Mural, seeks to collaboratively solve data management problems -- a new and different approach that Radcliffe says may or may not catch on.

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. To contact the editors, please email editor@destinationCRM.com.

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