I had the opportunity to join an invitee-only editorial round table discussion at the MDM & Data Governance Summit in New York City, and listening to my distinguished co-panelists and other presenters at the conference, one thing was clear: Master data management (MDM) is now past the “hype cycle,” and data governance (DG) and reference data management (RDM) are following closely behind.
The MDM & Data Governance Summit is a premier industry event that brings together analysts, aspirants, practitioners, and vendors in MDM, RDM, and DG across industries and technologies. It’s a great opportunity to see what vendors are up to and to hear from organizations on their experiences with implementing these difficult disciplines.
At the summit this year, the vendors were a mix of the old and the new. Notably missing was a dominating presence of the leading MDM software vendors and implementation partners, such as IBM, Informatica, TCS, and Cognizant. If there was a booth exhibited (such as with Cognizant and IBM), the presence was subdued. Mind you, that does not equate to any diminished market presence. By and large, the large software vendors and implementation partners are doing just fine. In fact, I suspect that is precisely the reason for their lackluster presence. Everyone knows about them now, so why bother with booths?
There were also many of the usual suspects: Dell Boomi, which offers innovation in cloud MDM (and has always appeared to me as a bit of a sleeper with great potential); Magnitude Software, which is the next step in the evolution of erstwhile MDM leader Kalido; and Stibo Systems, which boasts an ancient (in technology terms) European lineage. There were some relatively new entrants and innovators, such as Profisee, which has built an MDM solution on top of the Microsoft master data stack, and Reltio, a fast-rising entrant that is leading in new-generation, social-data-aware MDM. Lastly, there seemed to be a distinct uptick in DG and RDM offerings in terms of both capabilities and maturity. Established market leaders like Collibra and Orchestra Networks were joined by interesting competitors such as Global IDs and Semarchy. Notably missing was Ataccama, which has an impressive array MDM and DG tools. There were also some interesting niche solutions like location services from GBG Loqate and a graph database from Neo4j. Location awareness is looming large in areas such as healthcare, and graph theory — which I last encountered in graduate school — is facing resurgence.
The challenge with tooling for DG is that it is inherently difficult to define, scope, and implement. The path from a nebulous vision to an actionable plan is unclear and dependent on amorphous factors such as organizational culture, visionary leadership (or the lack thereof) in information management, and the enterprise data architecture landscape. I had the following to say in an article four years ago: “…if you’re looking to implement a data governance program, stop looking for a single, comprehensive solution. It doesn’t exist.” That is still the case.