IBM has announced its intention to acquire DWL, a leading customer data integration (CDI) vendor. This acquisition is bound to heat up the CDI marketplace, and put pressure on other CDI vendors such as Oracle, SAP and Siebel.
Organizations having been integrating their customer data for some time and there are a variety of different ways of doing this. In the business intelligence and data warehousing space this is often done by using data integration software (e.g., ETL tools) to capture customer data from operational source systems and consolidate it in an operational data store (ODS).
In the operational business transaction area, companies like SAP have been using master data management (MDM) techniques to manage customer data. MDM solutions usually offer the ability to asynchronously consolidate data in a single customer data store (as in an ODS), or to synchronously propagate data changes between business transaction applications.
It is important in MDM and CDI solutions to separate the business application from the underlying technology. MDM and CDI applications are focused on providing a single view of master data (customers, products, etc) to business users. These applications document the business semantics of the data, provide data quality and data analysis facilities, and so forth. Underneath these these applications are various data integration technologies that can propagate, federate, or consolidate master data based on business need. Often the data stores created and managed by these business applications and technologies act as a data source for data warehouses.
MDM and CDI applications may provide analytical capabilities, but in essence they are primarily operational, rather than business intelligence applications. However, they do make use of data warehouse integration technology. This shows the industry direction toward data integration being considered at an enterprise level, rather than just at a data warehousing level. This of course has implications for IT organizational structures.
The direction of the industry then is toward MDM operational applications that manage, report on and analyze master data. The primary focus of these applications at present is on customer data, hence the CDI buzzword. These applications provide data quality and metadata capabilities that are focused toward the business area being addressed. They use a common set of services to manage and integrate data. These services may use a variety of data integration techniques and technologies to support both virtual and physical data stores. These data stores in turn can act as an integrated data source for data warehousing.
The acquisition of DWI by IBM is consistent with its thrust toward supporting enterprise-wide data integration and master data management technologies and applications. This will put pressure on the applications vendors to compete at both an application and technology level. This pressure will be particularly intense for Siebel who must claim ownership of the CDI space if it is to survive and grow.
Posted August 2, 2005 10:06 AM
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