The gizmo culture of tech has a tendency to distort priorities. Ask people what MDM means, and you'll probably hear "mobile device management" in response. The vastly more important meaning of MDM, "master data management," seems lost to history.
Last week I spoke with Shoaib Abbasi, CEO of Informatica, which is an enterprise data integration company that's moving aggressively into a new cloud space known as iPaaS (integration platform as a service). Abbasi argues that as we plug into a cloud world and throw mobile, social, and the Internet of things into the mix, the imperative to maintain clean, consistent, deduplicated data is greater than ever.
The iPaaS space is crowded, and a fresh Gartner report compared no fewer than 17 players, with Informatica, Dell Boomi, and MuleSoft alone in the upper-right quadrant. Of the three, Informatica has been around the longest, with a history of on-premises enterprise data integration and $1 billion in annual revenue. Cloud represents only 10 percent of the company's business, says Abbasi, but he claims the year-over-year growth of cloud is 60 percent.
Informatica and MuleSoft both have cloud and on-premises integration platforms, which helps ensure consistency across integration deployments. Ensuring proper data integrity and synchronization is not trivial -- and in a cloud world demands a cloud platform on which you can build custom integrations when necessary.
An interesting aspect of cloud integration, says Abbasi, is the growing a number of businesses that rely on exchanging product data for e-commerce purposes:
If you truly want to give the impression of scale -- that you have all the products -- if you're a small organisation, you have to rely on a supply chain that would provide you with all the products you want. Even the task of managing and maintaining that information about all the products needs to be delegated to the suppliers. If you do that, you're allowing your suppliers to provide product information that you will then be selling. So now you have to make sure that whatever information they provide is good quality. And then you need to make it available across mobile, across social, across online and other mechanisms and synchronize all that.
Like it or not, we're hurtling into a cloud future -- and we're bringing essential data with us. Departments are subscribing to SaaS applications that store company data, business units are exchanging data with partners, and so on, raising fears that we'll end up with unreconciled errors and duplication.
Fortunately, according to Abbasi, more and more businesses appear to recognise not only the risk of data security breaches, but also the liabilities of data incoherence. The big data trend, which involves sifting though huge quantities of low-value data to turn up a few gems of insight, has led many enterprises to rediscover the value of conventional structured stuff, from credit card transaction information to telecommunication location data. As Abbasi puts it, "data is no longer viewed as a means to the end -- it is the end."
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