Demand for data quality software is rising fast as more organizations seek to support data governance initiatives, application modernization projects and master data management, according to a new Magic Quadrant report from IT research firm Gartner Inc.
Organizations are also using data quality tools to support a much wider range of use cases than in previous years, said Ted Friedman, vice president at the Stamford, Conn.-based analyst firm and author of the report. For example, he said, an increasing number of retail chains are using data quality software to cleanse location data associated with their stores and outlets.
The annual Gartner Magic Quadrant for Data Quality Tools ranks data quality vendors as leaders, challengers, visionaries and niche players based on several criteria, including "completeness of vision" and "ability to execute." The report, which is also based on the results of customer surveys and interviews, goes on to describe the relative strengths and weaknesses of each vendor.
SAS Institute Inc. is once again named a leader in this year's report, thanks largely to its DataFlux arm, which is no longer branded as if it were an independent company, according to Gartner. Other vendors listed as leaders include Informatica Corp., Harte-Hanks Inc.'s Trillium Software, SAP AG and IBM.
Pitney Bowes Inc. and Oracle Corp. are listed as challengers, while Datactics Ltd., DataMentors Inc., Uniserv and Innovative Systems Inc. are dubbed niche players. RedPoint Global Inc., which acquired data management software maker DataLever Corp. earlier this year, is also a niche player. Vendors listed as visionaries include Human Inference, Talend and Ataccama Corp. Information Builders Inc. and its iWay Software division are also dubbed visionaries.
Based in New York, Information Builders is known mainly for its presence in the business intelligence software market. But the company also offers a wide range of data quality functionality through its iWay Data Quality Center product. Some of Information Builders' major strengths include its focus on presentation, visualization and analysis as well as its ability to track the results of data-profiling operations, according to the Gartner report.
"Information Builders entered this market only just over three years ago and has yet to establish itself as a known and respected vendor of data quality tools," the report reads. "Despite the vendor's highly relevant technology, marketing and mind share have been historic weaknesses of the iWay brand in other markets, and they will also impair Information Builders' execution with its data quality tools."
A closer look at the leaders
The DataFlux Data Management Platform offers all the data quality functionality one might expect from a market leader, including profiling, matching, cleansing and monitoring. It's all delivered via a single, tightly integrated platform, although customers also have the option to buy specific capabilities as standalone products, according to the Magic Quadrant report.
"SAS recently announced a reorganization that eliminates the DataFlux organization as a standalone entity and combines all remaining DataFlux functions into SAS," the report reads. "This move raises questions about the importance of the DataFlux brand and SAS' desire to focus on nonanalytic information infrastructure opportunities."
Informatica offers a strong focus on data profiling, parsing, standardization, matching , entity resolution, and generalized cleansing capabilities, and its data quality tools are part of a much larger and more tightly integrated portfolio that includes master data management (MDM) and data integration software products.
"Informatica's existing and prospective customers often express concern about its high prices (relative to some competitors) and the perceived [total cost of ownership] of its data quality tools (which includes a significant learning curve and investment in skills)," the report reads. "Customers that purchase and deploy Informatica's tools generally express reasonable satisfaction with the value they deliver, but prospective customers that disqualify Informatica during competitive evaluations do so primarily because of its pricing model and price points and their perception of the TCO."
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Gartner found that Trillium Software has a respectable track record and offers "solid" functionality in the areas of data profiling, generalized parsing, standardization, matching and cleansing. The company recently intensified its focus on cloud computing with the release of its Trillium Software On-Demand offering.
"Trillium's latest major release, version 13.x, brought improvements in ease-of-use and other functional enhancements, but reference customers [continue] to desire better usability and reduced complexity of deployment," Friedman wrote.
In addition to its strong presence in the business applications marketplace, one of SAP's key strengths is its ability to deliver a decent breadth of data quality capabilities in the context of a service oriented architecture (SOA), according to Gartner.
However, "customers of SAP's data quality tools continue to routinely express frustration with the processes for obtaining product support and the quality and consistency of support services," the report reads. "The frequency of patches and a fast-paced release schedule [are] also cited as challenges."
IBM's data quality tools include InfoSphere Information Analyzer, which is used for data discovery, profiling and analysis; InfoSphere QualityStage, which is used for parsing, standardization and probabilistic matching; and InfoSphere Discovery, which is used for data discovery, analysis and matching.
The company's key strengths include its longtime presence in the IT marketplace and its ability to integrate its data quality offerings with other IBM products. Gartner also reported that IBM's profiling and discovery capabilities are often used to support data governance initiatives.
"IBM's data quality tool customers continue to identify longer learning curves, greater complexity and longer time to value as challenges," the Magic Quadrant report reads. "Although this is likely to be partly due to the more complex problems addressed by some of IBM's customers, IBM customers of all types commonly express a desire for improved usability."
What happened to Oracle?
It might seem surprising to find database and business applications giant Oracle in the challengers quadrant while two of its key rivals, IBM and SAP, are sitting pretty among the leaders -- especially given Oracle's penchant for acquiring smaller software vendors.
Oracle built up its data quality capabilities significantly over the past two years with the acquisitions of Datanomic and Silver Creek Systems. But Oracle is still considered a challenger, mainly because it's new to the marketplace and its data quality offerings are not tightly integrated with one another, said Friedman.
"Oracle is not an innovator in this market," he said. "They're more of a clever and fast follower, meaning they jumped into the market when they saw it was ripe for growth."
Friedman added that Oracle needs to do a better job of presenting a unified message about its overall approach to data quality.
"They've got a mix of products that are all sort of point products and good in their own right but no real strategy or action to kind of pull those together into a cohesive whole," he said. "I think that hurts them a bit."
Mark Brunelli is the News Director for SearchDataManagement.com. Follow him on Twitter: @Brunola88.