The 2007 Market Awards: Data Quality

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The Market The data quality space continues to garner attention thanks to strong growth and the realization by users that the functionality is strategic. As a result, data quality applications are making a major transition: from departmentalized point solutions to enterprisewide tools via customer data integration (CDI) hubs. This shifting landscape is represented in the technology--and in our results--as vendors and customers alike look to offer data quality as a set of services via a services-oriented architecture (SOA). Customer data is still king, but data quality is expanding to include other forms, such as financial and product data, along with master data management (MDM) solutions. As a result, says Ted Friedman, a distinguished analyst with Gartner, "the power is shifting away from those long-time incumbents, such as Business Objects, [Pitney Bowes'] Group 1, and [Harte-Hanks'] Trillium, to those SOA/MDM-leading vendors like IBM and [SAS Institute's] DataFlux." This also means that data quality functions such as address standardization, name verification, and data cleansing have become standard. "The market has plateaued in terms of this core functionality," says James Kobielus, a principal analyst for data management at Current Analysis. Data Quality: The Chart
One to Watch The One to Watch last year, as well--thanks to its acquisition of Similarity Systems--Informatica spent this year integrating Similarity's product portfolio into its own, with a bit of time set aside for its December purchase of Itemfield, a provider of data integration technology for structured and unstructured data. "They're a lot like Business Objects with Firstlogic," Kobielus says. "They have all the components of MDM, but they haven't put it all together." The best, he suggests, may still be to come: "Expect to see a strong MDM push from Informatica over the coming year." --C.B. The Leaders Firstlogic remains a stalwart in the data quality space, and immensely popular with customers--its 4.7 customer satisfaction score was highest among the leaders. While its parent company, Business Objects, has maintained Firstlogic's excellent customer satisfaction and kept its robust product offerings intact, analysts remain vexed by the overall corporate path for Firstlogic, resulting in a 3.4 in company direction, lowest of the leaders. "Business Objects isn't really an MDM vendor--they don't have a clear go-to-market message on it--but they have the pieces in place to be one," Kobielus says. "They're not doing justice to the tool set they acquired," another analyst says. "A lot of the Firstlogic execs have left, and it's questionable who at Business Objects understands what they've got." Trillium Software, a division of Harte-Hanks, secured its place on the leaderboard for the fourth straight year by earning solid marks across all categories. In January, the company added to its TS Discovery and TS Quality solutions by unveiling TS Insight, a trending and scorecard data quality dashboard for enterprises. Trillium earned praise for its strong focus on data quality and multilingual capabilities, but was dinged for its lack of support for MDM and certain data integration solutions. "They integrate with a lot of the other leaders in this list to provide these capabilities," Kobielus says. IBM Information Integration Solutions--once Ascential Software--remains "one of the strongest MDM players in the market," Kobielus says. the firm is still integrating Ascential's offerings into its WebSphere Information Integration solutions, a process more than 50 percent complete, says Ray Wang, a principal analyst at Forrester Research. When done, IBM will offer a complete set of SOA-based MDM/CDI solutions, which explains its near-perfect 4.9 in company direction, the highest among the leaders. "The integration has been an issue," says Jill Dyche, partner and cofounder at Baseline Consulting. "Once completed, it's going to be a powerful combination. They're just not there yet." Pitney Bowes' Group 1 Software scored well this year after releasing its rebranded Customer Data Quality Platform and version 6 of Data Flow. While lauded for its laserlike focus on CDI and for its robust name/address standardization functionality, analysts criticized the firm for its lack of support for MDM, resulting in a 3.9 in depth of functionality, lowest of the leaders. "They're not as mature in functionality, and need to bolt onto other MDM solutions," Dyche says. "They're like the BASF of MDM: They don't make MDM, they just make MDM better." The Winner For the third year in a row, SAS Institute's wholly owned subsidiary DataFlux is the winner of the data quality category, driven by its 4.8 in depth of functionality, highest of the leaders. The company has made MDM/CDI the centerpiece of its strategic initiatives: Version 8 of its Data Quality Integration Platform came out in November, and the division focused enhancements on data governance and MDM via its latest offerings, Data Flux Accelerators and dfPower Explorer--packaged workflow solutions that let companies analyze data and establish MDM best practices. "They have a great vision of where data quality is heading, and are on the cutting edge," Wang says. --Colin Beasty
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