The customer MDM software market is nearing maturity, but amid a flurry of acquisitions, products and vendors extending their reach, it still has a ways to go before settling down completely, according to a recent Magic Quadrant report from Stamford, Conn.-based Gartner Research Inc.
There are three players that consistently dominate the overall master data management (MDM) landscape -- IBM, Oracle and SAP -- and each boasts an array of products that have complicated the customer MDM market segment in recent years, said John Radcliffe, research vice president at Gartner Inc. and an author of the report.
"I don't see somebody coming from total left field and becoming the market leader. I think it's a fairly established market around those vendors," Radcliffe said. "[But] one thing you could say about some of these vendors [is that] their story is getting a lot more complicated. If you went back five years or more, you might find the company had a single product."
This isn't the case anymore. Big acquisitions have resulted in multiple products per vendor aimed at a host of diverse requirements. Combined with homemade vendor tools, the offerings can result in myriad options and a dizzying decision-making process for customer MDM buyers, according to Gartner.
MDM promotes the management of data across a number of key domains, including product, customer and finance, to ensure consistency of information throughout the enterprise. Customer MDM tools help companies achieve a "golden record" for customer master data, and make it available in a variety of views across an organization.
The annual Magic Quadrant for Master Data Management of Customer Data Solutions ranks customer MDM software vendors as leaders, challengers, visionaries and niche players based on several criteria, including "ability to execute" and "completeness of vision." This year's quadrant lists two separate offerings each from IBM, Oracle and SAP because the companies' products are independent offerings that fit the criteria for inclusion, according to the report.
The report positions Informatica, Oracle's Siebel UCM product, and both IBM's InfoSphere MDM Standard Edition and Advanced Edition as this year's overall "leaders". There are no vendors listed in the "challengers" section. Tibco Software is the sole visionary, while SAS DataFlux, VisionWare, Orchestra Networks, Oracle's Customer Data Hub (CDH) product, and both SAP's Netweaver MDM and MDG-C products are all deemed "niche" players.
Gartner Magic Quadrant: Microsoft missing from the lineup
One vendor that is noticeably missing from the quadrant is Microsoft. The software giant's MDM product, SQL Server Master Data Services, is already on its second lackluster version, said Radcliffe, who isn't "seeing them put a major focus on the MDM market" in the face of other hot topics, like parallel data warehousing and "big data."
"Really, they should have a much better story and a much stronger product and a much stronger push into this market than they do at the moment," Radcliffe said. "They are really underperforming."
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A few players mentioned in the research are making notable headway, though. After the big three vendors, Informatica and Tibco took fourth and fifth place respectively in terms of market share, according to the report.
Tibco's rank is owed to its dedication in establishing its position as a viable MDM provider over the past couple of years, according to Radcliffe. The company started with a strong reputation in the product data area, but didn't have much to share in the way of customer stories until recently, said Radcliffe, who noted particular progress in its business-to-consumer relations.
"Over the last year, they've really ramped up the sales and marketing in that area. And also, they've improved the product, particularly in the context of supporting millions of consumer customers potentially in a [services-oriented architecture] style environment, which tends to be their sweet spot."
Tibco is representative of a set of vendors that are venturing out from their native territory in product data. These vendors are attempting to stretch into other domains to satisfy customers seeking a common provider for all of their MDM needs. But while they have asserted themselves as reliable vendors in the product data market, they will have to prove themselves in the customer realm if they want to challenge the big guys, Radcliffe said.
"Typically, some of the best-of-breed vendors who made their name in the product data area, they still have quite a learning curve to go through and further improvements to their products before they could win [in a] head-to-head [against customer MDM leaders]," he said.
A converging market
The year was relatively lean on acquisitions, according to Radcliffe, until Informatica picked up cloud MDM startup Data Scout and the product data-oriented Heiler Software in quick succession.
These acquisitions, and other less recent ones, have resulted in vendors juggling multiple products, covering a range of problems. Consequently, there's been an influx of convergence road maps in the customer data market. Radcliffe said there are good reasons for vendors to shoot for consolidation, such as the reduction in maintenance costs associated with a smaller software stack. Consolidation is also good for end users in that vendors will be able to satisfy complex requirements without the need to implement multiple products. But the process of consolidation is a slow one, according to the report.
Still, each of the major players is striving towards the notion of a standardized convergence roadmap -- some more quickly than others, Radcliffe said. IBM and Oracle are both fleshing out a common platform to host their sets of products, while SAP's constant introduction of divergent products might delay its ultimate goal of integration.
Radcliffe thinks convergence, once achieved, might shift the market from "maturing" to "totally mature." In the meantime, there's plenty of room for vendor movement.
"There's still a lot to play for in the marketplace," he said. "If [there] was one vendor [selling] one all-singing, all-dancing product, then we'd be at a sort of end point."