Market Leaders: Data Quality

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The Market 

The data is high quality, indeed: This market had a growth year, with some vendors nearly doubling revenues. Existing products are seen as consumable, robust, and user-friendly, but the market is spreading its wings to align with other data initiatives, such as master data management (MDM), governance, and integration, with many new products even targeting the front office. “The market continues to evolve away from esoteric technical tools and toward business-empowering suites providing robust functionality with increasingly role-based interfaces tailored to the specific needs of different users,” points out Jim Harris, editor in chief for Obsessive-Compulsive Data Quality (OCDQ). Jill Dyché, cofounder and principal at Baseline Consulting, notes a diversification trend: “Megavendors have embraced [data quality] and the niche vendors are going beyond [it],” she says, adding that making data quality a business issue remains a challenge. “The companies that succeed [in doing so] will gain the market share.”

The Leaders

Dethroned by a mere fraction of a point, SAS Institute’s DataFlux can take solace in having repeatedly boosted its score for customer satisfaction, from 4.0 in 2008, to 4.4, to 4.6 this year. Andy Hayler, chief executive officer of analysis firm The Information Difference, says DataFlux has done well in recent satisfaction surveys and seems headed in a sensible direction, embracing larger data efforts such as “an MDM hub [that’s] starting to get traction.” Dyché calls DataFlux the “company with the most recognition on the business side of the house,” perhaps due to an improved user interface with loads of business-specific visualization tools. 

Slightly boosting its scores in company direction and depth of functionality, IBM remains a solid contender—but Big Blue’s customer satisfaction rating (3.2) once again took a hit, due mostly to complexity. “IBM is sometimes too big for its own good,” Harris says, “and can appear to…suffer from an overabundance of functionality and innovation, as well as a lack of a clear data quality strategy.” Dyché says IBM shines in bundling data quality features into a larger-scale ecosystem. “That’s IBM’s silver bullet,” she says, explaining the impressive 4.2 depth-of-functionality score. “It’s starting to link up its technologies,” Hayler says. “And it’s a big beast—it takes some time.” He does acknowledge IBM’s efforts to have its MDM technologies work other tools—a reason for the solid 4.0 rating (up from 3.8) in company direction. 

Doubts surrounding SAP’s emphasis on its BusinessObjects data quality solution intensified this year, causing its score for company direction to tumble from 3.5 to 2.9. “SAP eroded its market presence,” Dyché says. “They saw the need [for data quality] ahead of everybody else, but a combination of internal disruption and lack of a consolidated messaging has seen them flounder.” Hayler attributes the low score in company direction to the lack of integration with other SAP products, such as its MDM solution. “It would be good to see more,” he says. 

Analysts call Harte-Hanks’ Trillium Software a hard-hitting pure-play product, but note a lack of innovation—perhaps why its scores are nearly identical to last year’s, with a slight boost in company direction. “It’s not the simplest [tool], nor the hardest to use, and it’s not the sexiest user interface,” Hayler says, “but if you have a big, complex data quality problem, Trillium would be on your shortlist.” Dyché says the company direction score (3.3) remains low because of messaging that’s “all over the place.” Trillium might not be flashy, but Harris finds the value in tried-and-true: “Trillium continues to be good at doing what [it’s] always done.”

The Winner 

In 2009, one analyst said Informatica “will be the hands-down [one] to beat” in a year or two. Good call: With the biggest year-over-year improvements among the leaders, Informatica dethroned longtime category winner DataFlux, with all three ratings above 4.0, including a whopping 4.8 in company direction. Harris says the vendor is “rapidly evolving,” mostly through big deals such as the acquisition of MDM specialist Siperian in 2010. (Hayler says Informatica’s “picture is more interesting” with Siperian on board.) “Expect to see a strong data quality offering start to play a role in the broader MDM initiatives,” Hayler says. Informatica scored a 4.1 in depth of functionality, lower than either DataFlux or IBM, which Dyché suggests might reflect difficulty putting the pieces together. Still, 4.1 is respectable, confirming what Harris calls Informatica’s “well-deserved reputation for intuitive, role-based user interfaces that promote effective collaboration between business and technical teams.”  

One to Watch

Open-source technologies continue to gain momentum—and the data quality segment is no exception. Perhaps known best in open-source data integration, Talend made a splash in the data quality market with the April release of its unified data management platform. “Talend is an intriguing vendor to watch,” OCDQ’s Harris says. “Its community-edition data-profiling tool…has been remarkably well received.” Talend’s functionality may not yet be on par with that of the market leaders, but Harris points out the vendor’s ongoing evolution. “Perhaps Talend’s greatest strength is [its] community,” he adds, “which provides a tremendous environment of collaboration and support for [its] users, and drives innovative product enhancements.”

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