The 2008 CRM Market Awards: Market Leaders -- Data Quality

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The race is heated this year, with all five vendors here clamoring for the top spot and a pair of shifts in the leaderboard—the absence of Pitney Bowes Group 1 Software and the entrance of newcomer Informatica. Analysts point out that as the competition tightens, so does the quest for greater functionality and breadth of capabilities. According to Frank Dravis, analyst with Baseline Consulting, there is an increasingly blurry line between data quality and data integration—vendors are now doing both, and those just offering one capability without the other are losing ground.

Jill Dyche, another Baseline analyst, adds that applying data quality to business processes has become crucial in the enterprise—and in particular with CRM deployments. “CRM is a huge driver in what we’re finding with clients,” she says. “CRM is not only back in a big way, but the technologies to support data quality and matching are more robust than when CRM first came about.” The analysts point out that there are smaller, niche players in the data quality market—offering specialized tools such as address matching—that are nipping at the enterprise vendors’ heels. Dravis says that he sees a clear group of leaders serving the enterprise, but also a group of smaller players making noise, such as Experian QAS and Innovative Systems. Rob Karel, Forrester analyst, adds Silver Creek Systems, more of a strictly data quality provider, to the list of smaller players on the rise.

Trillium Software, a division of Harte-Hanks, is revisiting the leaderboard for its fifth year in a row. The provider has classically focused on enterprisewide installations, but one analyst says that other data quality vendors are catching up to Trillium and providing greater competition. Forrester principal analyst Ray Wang adds that, in terms of customer satisfaction, Trillium is notable. In his experience, he says he’s seen very happy customers with Trillium.

IBM Information Integration Solutions is another repeater on this year’s list. In 2007, the vendor scored nearly perfect by way of company direction. This year, IBM got a 4 in the category—still strong, but evidence that other vendors are catching up. “In terms of depth, they are a clear leader; they do everything,” Dyche says. “If they haven’t built it, they’ve bought it.”

Informatica made its arrival on the leaderboard felt this year, evolving from a One to Watch in 2007 to become a solid-ranking leader. Analysts give credit to Informatica’s recent acquisitions of Identity Systems and Similarity Systems for the vendor’s robust offerings and high assessment. One analyst even went so far as to call the internal strategy “visionary.” Dyche also praises the firm’s apparent ease of integration. “Not only has the data quality strategy been impressive, but the speed with which they have melded [the] acquisitions into a core offering has been impressive,” she says, adding that the acquisitions “made [Informatica] not only a data quality player, but a true data integration player.”

SAP appears in the data quality category for the first time, but its Business Objects unit (acquired in October 2007) is not new to the winners circle. Although Business Objects fell lower on the ranks of company direction, it still scored high in depth of functionality (4.25). Analysts suggest that the internal reorganization may have had a significant effect on the company direction—or at least how it’s being viewed in the marketplace. “Nobody really knows with all [these] big fish eating smaller fish,” Dyche says. Another analyst laments the fact that SAP has been unclear about what exactly its plans are with Business Objects. Although the overall direction might not be crystal clear, Business Objects’ data quality offerings still scored a solid 4 in the category of customer satisfaction.

DataFlux, the SAS Institute subsidiary, repeats its category-winning performance this year—but not without a significant fight from the other contenders. With an impressive 4.5 score in depth of functionality, and a company direction that Dravis calls “pretty sound,” the company continues accelerating. “It’s a core product,” Wang says. Dyche adds that the DataFlux offering is particularly strong; the only thing that is relatively low is the company’s market awareness. “The depth of functionality isn’t as well understood as it should be in the marketplace,” she says. “If people knew what DataFlux could do, they would take it more seriously.” 

one to watch : data quality
Pitney Bowes Group 1 Software may be off the leaderboard for the moment, but its presence in the market is still recognized. “Customers who have Group 1, really love Group 1,” Dyche offers, adding that the company needs to do a better job of showing customers just what it’s capable of. Another analyst explains that the functionality Pitney Bowes provides is good, but the vendor has become a bit of a sleeper over the past year. “A lot, again, is simply not communicating their functions in a clear enough way to give it justice,” Dyche says.

To view the other 2008 Market Leader categories, click here.

To view the rest of the 2008 CRM Market Awards, click here.

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