Does “single vendor” mean “fully integrated”? Selecting a Data Quality tool

One stop shopping is a popular approach for IT architects that hope to simplify their decision making. In many cases, decision makers will short list vendors based on their position in analyst ranking, such as the relevant Gartner Magic Quadrant.

When using these tools to shortlist vendors, it is important to realise that, in many cases, the detail of the report may paint a different picture to the graphic.

Take master data management as an example, As a discipline, master data management must manage multiple domains in order to support key business capabilities, and must be underpinned by quality data and solid data governance.

 Gartner’s assessment of master data management solutions is broken into two separate reports – based on historically separate positioning of Customer and Product MDM solutions.

In each case, industry collusses dominate these reports due to acquisition of multiple competing solutions. In some cases, two or three competing offerings from a single vendor are positioned on the same report. When both reports are combined then even more competing offerings may be represented.

The fundamental premise of “one stop shopping” is to provide an integrated infrastructure. Yet, these reports show that this is simply not happening. Andrew White, a Gartner vice president and author of their Product MDM report looks at one example. “They bought three [independently developed] solutions, they recently tried to merge the first two and failed, then they bought a third product, and now they’re spending a number of years gradually converging the three.”

This challenge is not linked to a single vendor. Any vendor that is driven by a acquisition based strategy faces the same challenges. In many cases, acquired solutions may even be discontinued in favour of another, preferred platform.

The concept of a single vendor solution is attractive but may be counterproductive. MDM’s dependencies on both data governance and data quality are well documented. Many smaller vendors choose to focus on providing a robust, multi-domain MDM platform, meaning that data quality and data governance needs are addressed through integration with specialist data quality or data governance solutions. In many cases, these multivendor solutions are better integrated than the multiple acquisitions of bigger, less focussed solution providers, and provide deeper and broader capability.

The best solution for your needs should be based on a realistic understanding of your MDM business goals and the ability of the tool selected to support these, not on a mythical belief that a single vendor will provide a complete, integrated solution.

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