Informatica Establishes Order from Information Chaos

I recently attended the annual Informatica analyst summit to get the latest on that company’s strategy and plans. The data integration provider offers a portfolio of information management software that supports today’s big data and information optimization needs. Informatica is busy making changes in its presentation to the market and its marketing and sales efforts. New executives, including new CMO Marge Breya, are working to communicate what is possible with Informatica’s product portfolio, and it’s more than just data integration.

Big data and cloud computing have placed challenges on IT in its roles as both a facilitator and in providing governance and compliance with policies and regulations, including access and security. IT compliance costs are GRC and ITincreasing, according to 53 percent of heavily regulated organizations, and even 17 percent of those subject to little or no regulation, according to our governance, risk and compliance research. CIOs should examine Informatica’s product portfolio to see how to increase efficiency in the access, governance and integration of data in IT systems for more effective business processes including those that are GRC related.

Governance over transactional, interaction and analytical systems is a complex task. Late last year I wrote about Informatica’s latest efforts in big data and cloud computing; the company is now shipping its PowerCenter Big Data Edition, which facilitates integration with Hadoop. I have written about how integration with big data is broken today as organizations struggle not just with Hadoop but also with other big data technologies. Informatica provides tools to parse data so it can be profiled and processed efficiently. For example, Informatica can perform natural language processing to extract entities from text within unstructured data that can help in a range of tasks including those related to IT need to perform reviews of data.

With its latest tools, Informatica has stepped beyond the Informatica Cloud Winter 2013 release, which started the software down the path of bringing master data management (MDM) and data governance into the cloud. The Cloud Spring 2013 release, expected in April, is about providing enterprise capabilities in the cloud. New Cloud Data Masking can help secure sensitive or confidential data; our data in the cloud research found that data security is the number one concern in 63 percent of organizations. A data loader for Salesforce makes a bulk read and write license available; I have written about how providing data plumbing is your business, as Salesforce has failed to meet customers’ needs in this area.

Informatica last month acquired Active Endpoints, whose Cloud Extend applies cloud-based workflow services to what would regularly just be state-based applications, such as Salesforce applications for SFA. Cloud Extend lets managers map out the steps that should be taken in an application and prompts users for action. This application, which is designed for line of business and analysts, can provide value for both business and centralized IT. Informatica is making it more efficient to set up and establish integration across the cloud, and its ability to subset data and support sandbox environments helps its customers reduce costs and time to get up and running.

Informatica has announced it is offering prepackaged integration with NetSuite and Workday applications that operate in the cloud in its Cloud Connector Marketplace Mall. This is a welcome step; Informatica needs to invest further to develop cloud connectors for the larger group of cloud computing applications in use today, as it has many more to address to reach critical mass or universal connectivity. The good news is that many software organizations that operate in the cloud, including MicroStrategy, Ultimate Software and Xactly, are embedding Informatica to improve their ability to be efficient with data and support customers’ needs. In its Spring release Informatica will also provide connectivity to Amazon Redshift, Oracle CRM On Demand and Microsoft Dynamics AX. The announced move to support Amazon Redshift is important as more organizations look to embrace cloud computing for their data storage and processing needs.

At the analyst summit Informatica presented its vision of the future of cloud as an IT-led activity, saying that the days that line of business owned and led cloud effort are past. In this the company could not be more wrong, as subscription and access to cloud applications and services by business continues to grow as their need for them increases when they get little to no support from IT. While IT might be getting engaged and starting to leverage this utility of computing, they are no way leading or controlling what business is doing. We continue to see this in sales, marketing, customer service, operations, human resources and even finance. In the end, business is held accountable for business processes and outcomes, and I do not see any research points that indicate this will change in the near future. What is needed is more of an adaptive environment where analysts and business can facilitate more interactions through data requests and tasks, not just stewardship and increasing the quality of the data that exists, which is only part of the bottleneck.

Informatica also provided more insight to how it uses Virtual Data Machine, where Informatica products can operate across platforms and environments yet be insulated from their differences. I would expect to hear more from the company on where this can play a role in cloud and hosted environments as much as it can in on-premises environments. Ultimately this technology should be able to support more integration points and partners as it has done with Teradata; Informatica recently announced further support for Teradata Unified Data Architecture, where it can streamline data integration from within the Informatica Virtual Data Machine to environments like Teradata.

Informatica also continues its strategic partnership with Heiler, which it is in the process of acquiring and expected by year end if approved by German regulatory review. Since my analysis of the announcement last fall the companies have been working to integrate MDM with product information management (PIM). Informatica has come to recognize that PIM is not MDM; they have different business and IT requirements, but together they can be a valuable combination. This simple position is not generally accepted by the majority of IT analysts, who have led many of the largest of software companies into the IT approach, which our PIM benchmark research has found is wrong, and which led me to write a perspective on how PIM is for business. Heiler, which we rated as Hot in our 2012 Value Index for Product Information Management, plus Informatica, which was Hot in our 2012 Value Index for Data Integration, combined might be the next PIM powerhouse.

How OI is UsedInformatica continues to expand its portfolio to support a range of real-time operations needs. It recently released a new version of Informatica Ultra Messaging that my colleague Robert Kugel assessed. Beyond the near-real-time features is Informatica’s capability of handling complex event processing (CEP) and what we call operational intelligence in its products. Unfortunately, with such a busy product portfolio, Informatica’s CEP and operational intelligence capabilities are rarely marketed and not very well known. Our benchmark research finds that activity or event monitoring is a top priority in 62 percent of organizations, and that is exactly what Informatica PowerCenter offers.

I expect to see more big steps forward for Informatica, as it has many development initiatives that are still confidential that will continue its expansion as an information-centered software provider. As technology providers such as Informatica are further pressured to demonstrate business value, we will see a further shift to what we call information optimization, which is in the end what business needs on a more timely and consistent basis, as I have outlined in our research agenda.

Informatica finds its customers moving to being stewards of business data but need to move further to supporting analysts’ needs for data to perform analytics. Our latest research finds that 42 percent of organizations are still impeded by data-related tasks preventing them from handling analytic ones. This has led to the startling reality, found in Business Intelligence and Spreadsheetsour latest research into spreadsheets, that spreadsheets are used 74 percent of the time for business intelligence tasks, despite the fact that they are responsible for a high amount of errors from the manual copy, paste and calculation tasks.  The need to remedy data-related problems should help Informatica bridge the data divide between business and IT. Informatica continues to be bullish on its growth opportunities, and it does not have to convince me, as our research for a decade has shown the need for rationalization to improve efficiency and profitability.


Mark Smith
CEO & Chief Research Officer

Pitney Bowes Advances Spectrum for Information Management

Managing data efficiently across the enterprise continues to be a largevr_infomgt_information_management_initiative challenge for both business units and IT. Organizations need data supplied in a consistent format and timely manner to help manage their activities and processes, but some do not look beyond conventional approaches to improvement. Today’s large volumes of data make it more difficult to understand the relationships among data and the role of location-related data. Our 2012 benchmark research on information management found that most organizations need to advance their data initiatives and take steps to integrate them.

In 2012, Pitney Bowes enhanced its Spectrum technology for data management to help organizations realize the full value of data vr_datacloud_automating_cloud_data_activities_is_importantentities. Its relationship discovery technology for graph modeling accelerates association of data in the enterprise and with social media. The latest version, Spectrum 8, brings together data integration, data quality and master data management in an integrated approach to enterprise information management. Architecturally it uses data federation and data integration interfaces to its master data management hub to bring together core capabilities including a portfolio of data quality and data enrichment capabilities. One of Spectrum 8’s unique elements is its support for location and spatial data. Our research on cloud computing reveals the rising importance of data management in these environments; I hope that Pitney Bowes will address this in future versions.

In announcing version 8, the company detailed a spectrum of improvements. Its latest data integration release takes steps forward with a visual query builder and deeper support for XML sourcing, synchronization and schemas; it also helps the enterprise with scheduling, loaders and transactional support for databases and XML. In data quality, Spectrum 8 supports location and address certifications and validation through forward and reverse geocoding, which is now expanded to include China, India and many other countries, as well as providing a new module for transliteration. In master data management, it adds a range of modeling techniques, hierarchy management including visual analysis and social network analysis, reliability advancements in clustering, fault tolerance and hot backup of the system. Further it has advanced support for what we call location analytics and spatial management of business data. Our current research into location analytics shows that these improvements are timely, as organizations need better support for making data location-aware, which Pitney Bowes is doing across the entire Spectrum offering. I also am impressed by the usability of the system, which as well as IT specialists also will suit analysts who are familiar with data relationships.

Pitney Bowes is not well-known for its information management technology, but this release has a robust and integrated approach, and organizations should include it in their evaluations. Its graph-orientedvr_bigdata_big_data_technologies_planned technology can help streamline customer data for easier interactions and contribute to improving the customer experience throughout an organization’s business processes. Our research agenda for 2013 outlines the information management competencies needed to support the new generation of big data and information optimization, and Pitney Bowes is relevant in this regard. Its Spectrum offering will appeal to those looking to use their customer information more fully in business processes, although it can be used for other types of data as well. Spectrum surpasses other offerings with its customer and social relationship mapping, making data more location-aware and enriching it through its tools. As indicated by our big-data benchmark research, Pitney Bowes will need to expand further to address big data through integration with Hadoop, data appliances and in-memory computing; that will be necessary for it to work with systems that CIOs and data management professionals are architecting now. Pitney Bowes also should foster alliances with the range of applications providers in big data, analytics, customer service and contact centers to ensure it is seen as part of the overall technology ecosystem. Last year I pointed out the critical need for this company to provide tighter alignment among its own efforts in customer communications. In addition I expect that as its product offerings evolve, Pitney Bowes will position itself in the new evolution of information management called information optimization. Those looking at a new generation of data management that is integrated and uses discovery and analytics should consider Pitney Bowes Spectrum.


Mark Smith
CEO & Chief Research Officer