Gartner names top data quality management software tools in new Magic Quadrant

The leaders in the data quality tools market are beefing up their international offerings and focusing on real-time monitoring, according to Gartner's Magic Quadrant.

In a rapidly evolving market, the leading data quality tool vendors are focused on real-time monitoring of more than just customer data, according to the latest Gartner report.

The recent Magic Quadrant for Data Quality Tools, from Stamford, Conn.-based Gartner Inc., evaluated nine vendors on features such as data profiling, matching, parsing and standardization, and the ability to handle international data, said Ted Friedman, research vice president and author of the study. Vendors were named leaders, visionaries or niche players. From growing feature sets to seemingly shrinking vendor choices, there's a lot to keep up with in the data quality market.

Firstlogic (now owned by BusinessObjects), DataFlux, IBM and Trillium were named the market leaders. Those labeled "visionaries" include Informatica, because of its purchase of Similarity Systems, and Human Inference, which offers a single platform with multiple functions and international support, Friedman said. No vendors were identified in the challenger category of the study.

The niche players are Innovative Systems, DataLever and (Pitney Bowes-owned) Group 1 Software, which is in the niche quadrant because it doesn't appear to be doing much beyond customer data, Friedman said. Since the evaluation was limited to software tools, service vendors offering data cleansing did not appear on the report, though Friedman noted that those companies also typically focus just on customer data. The new market leaders are handling product and financial data, he said, not just names and addresses.

"The vendors that rated strongest on vision [both leaders and visionaries] are really pushing the envelope in two areas. One is the notion of ongoing, real-time monitoring of data quality -- technology that's good at building rules that you can deploy in operational systems, rather than after-the-fact cleansing," Friedman said. "Also, their technology is very domain agnostic -- it's not just about customer data, it's about all kinds of data."

As companies become larger and participate in the global economy, international support is also increasingly important, he said. Some vendors, such as Group 1 Software, have introduced Unicode capabilities into their products and can handle double byte character sets and Asian languages. Historically, data quality vendors have not had a strong international presence, but that will change, Friedman said, because data quality is a global problem. That's not all that's changing.

The vendor landscape has shifted significantly in the last few months, with Business Objects  acquiring Firstlogic, Informatica scooping up Similarity Systems and Hyperion's recent  acquisition of financial data quality specialist UpStream. As some players become assimilated, new vendors such as Europe-based Datactics and DataNomic are emerging, Friedman said. They didn't meet the Magic Quadrant's criteria but are noted in the report nonetheless.

"The market itself is a pretty diverse place these days. In addition to the nine vendors on the quadrant, we also mention about a dozen or so vendors that are currently up and coming, regionally focused, or focused in a specialty area of data quality like data profiling," Friedman said.

Nevertheless, companies should start looking to broader suite vendors, Friedman warns.

"This is no longer a market of specialists. The market is beyond that now," he said. "You want to be looking for a more complete data quality tool, which in effect includes everything we evaluated in the Magic Quadrant."

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