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Data management news in review: Top 10 stories of 2006

In 2006, data management news embraced the future of SOA, MDM and merged BI/CPM but remained grounded in the fundamentals of data governance, quality and integration.

In 2006, data management proved that some things never go out of style -- like accurate data, information governance and truly integrated systems. But this year also emphasized new tools and methods to carry out this mission, such as service-oriented architectures (SOAs), master data management (MDM) and multi-functional integration platforms. We looked back to identify the standout trends, events and highlights of 2006.

10. Compliance attempts automation. In the early days of Sarbanes-Oxley, many companies complied with regulations using manual methods, such as spreadsheets. This year, organizations began moving away from Excel in the enterprise and were expected to invest $1.9 billion in compliance technology, according to Boston-based AMR Research Inc. CIOs, CFOs and compliance teams sifted through a wide range of tools to build compliance technology toolboxes to ensure data integrity at every step of the way.

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9. Open source business intelligence (BI) invites interest. Some of SearchDataManagement's most popular stories of 2006 covered the emergence of free, open source BI tools. We learned that open source BI is increasingly embedded in other applications and that despite its lack of licensing fees, it's not always cheaper to implement than commercial BI software. Next year may bring even more visibility to the technology, according to San Mateo, Calif.-based analyst firm Ventana Research, which predicts that the number of open source BI deployments with more than 1,000 users will double or triple in 2007.

8. Customer data integration reiterates its role. Some skeptics still had to be convinced that CRM and data warehouses are not the answer to CDI. But other companies, such as Microsoft, embraced the concept -- building business cases, calculating ROI and selecting vendors with the help of research such as Stamford, Conn.-based analyst firm Gartner Inc.'s Magic Quadrant for CDI hubs.

7. BI and corporate performance management (CPM) continue to converge. Analysts and experts predicted the convergence of BI and CPM -- and it seems to be happening. Companies such as Universal Studios Hollywood successfully deployed BI and CPM software together and BI vendor Actuate acquired CPM vendor Performancesoft. Now, Towcester, U.K.-based analyst firm Bloor Research predicts that CPM will ultimately be more pervasive than BI. ( Editor's wish: Maybe in 2007 the industry can standardize on a three-letter acronym for performance management, which seems to be interchangeably labeled CPM, BPM or EPM -- corporate, business or enterprise performance management.)

6. Enterprise search finds a foothold. The search market started to consolidate last year, but things got really interesting when BI vendors came out in force with search tools and Google partnerships, inspiring Gartner to coin the term "biggle" (BI + Google). By the end of 2006, IBM had partnered with Yahoo and declared that basic enterprise search should be free.

5. Data governance is back (and bad). No one said data governance would be easy, as demonstrated by Gartner's prediction that 90% of companies' will fail at their first attempt. Experts like SearchDataManagement's Rick Sherman offered some cautionary insights on why data governance projects fail. Gwen Thomas of the Data Governance Institute blamed our "alpha male instincts" for the problems, while sharing governance trends in an exclusive podcast.

4. Data integration and ETL evolve. Extract, transform and load (ETL) may not be dead, but it may be turning into just another function of the new data integration platforms. This year, more companies evaluated their integration options, looking to such methods as enterprise application integration, enterprise information integration and SOAs. And experts proclaimed that the future will see SOA and semantics fundamentally change data integration even more.

3. IBM, Microsoft make moves. The mere announcement of Microsoft's planned PerformancePoint Server 2007 caused a stir with its midmarket ambitions and implied validation of merged BI and CPM software. Then, IBM bought content management vendor FileNet, combined it with the fruits of its previous acquisitions and released Information Server.

2. Data quality vendors are assimilated. First, there were the acquisitions --  Informatica purchased Similarity Systems, Business Objects bought Firstlogic and Hyperion hooked Upstream. We wondered: Where have all the data quality vendors gone? But we got our answer when Gartner analysts explained that data quality functions are getting integrated into other applications and platforms and are quickly becoming a pervasive presence across the enterprise.

1. MDM attracts ample attention. Though some have questioned all the hype, MDM was inescapable this year. We learned about best practices from early adopters and watched a host of vendors introduce MDM products, which subsequently prompted Forrester and Gartner to publish frameworks for sorting them all out. And Ventana Research surveyed companies to quantify actual MDM usage and shared the results in this exclusive podcast.

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