On Informatica, Evangelism, Audience Strata and BIG-DATA
I attended an event the other week in London organised by Informatica entitled The Enterprise Data Management Forum.
I thoroughly enjoyed the event – except that it overran and I had to miss the Q&A panel to run and get a flight. That aside, it’s really gratifying to watch a large-ish vendor execute on marketing strategy with a single vision. I’ve long admired Informatica’s marketing, having worked alongside a couple of their ex-senior marketing folks and seen the disciplines they learned at Informatica. And it’s clear that the company is focussed, knows who it sells to and why they buy.
But I thought I’d share a couple of observations that reminded me that the Informatica marketing machine is not infallible.
On Audience Strata Mismatch
Audience strata mismatch is the term I use to denote when a vendor is saying all the right things to the all the wrong people. Much of the content from the event centred around the business pains created by a poor data integration strategy and, obviously, the benefits that would flow to the business if the data integration strategy were fixed with, say, Informatica’s products. All good.
As marketeers, we’ve all seen this before. And we’re used to sitting through slide after slide of business benefit bingo which is usually pretty boring. Except that Informatica is able to point to case studies with quantifiable benefit and ROI which makes it slightly more interesting. Again, all good. The problem came during the excellent presentation by John Radcliffe of Gartner where he asked the audience to define their role in their company as either on the business or the technical side. I was surprised to see that, in John Radcliffe’s words, “That’s about 99% of you on the technical side.”. Hmm I thought. So Informatica built an excellent agenda, excellent speakers and excellent content, but perhaps not targeted completely accurately. Don’t get me wrong, there was technical content during the day and I don’t want to suggest that all people ‘on the technical side’ do not care about the benefit of the technology to their business. But, I’m sure they were expecting a different balance.
Long, long ago when the Internet was just starting to be considered as a platform across which business to business commerce could be transacted, I went on a European speaking tour promoting a reliable computer to computer messaging product. I remember getting on my feet in front of audiences from London to Prague and from Paris to Milan evangelising how this messaging product would revolutionise the way business was conducted. I told them that the very fabric of the way business to business trade was conducted would change, I told them that they should show vision and leadership in their market and use our product to gain the march on their competition. I used examples of similar paradigm shifts from the past that companies had used to disrupt their markets. I implored them for the sake of the families to grab the wave and not miss out on this opportunity. Well perhaps I didn’t go quite that far, but I certainly played up the role that B2B e-commerce would have.
Was I wrong? No. Was I premature? Well, only by about 5 years.
Why am I sharing this fact from my past? Well BIG-DATA appears to be Informatica’s ‘reliable computer to computer messaging’ and social networks, Informatica’s ‘B2B commerce’. Informatica sees the exploitation of social media and the resultant mining of the massive amounts of data by-product of our twittering, liking and plus oneing; as a massive potential opportunity for their clients and prospects. You see, for a company that is all about data integration and that has a solution for every conceivable current (budgeted) data integration project type, where do you go next? The answer appears to be that you get into BIG-DATA integration, ahead of your competition, but also apparently ahead of demand.
So why do I say ‘ahead of demand’? Well because the level of evangelistic fervour with which Informatica approached this massive, future, potential opportunity, reminded me of my good self all those years ago. When the (excellent by the way) presenter drew a comparison between the competitive motivation the United States used to start its space program in the late ’50s and the current competitive market opportunity that presented itself to the audience, I sensed we might be ahead of the curve.
That’s not to say that there isn’t an opportunity right now for organisations looking to mine the BIG-DATA created by social media mechanisms to interact with the customers. I’m sure there is. But for the majority of folks in the audience this is likely to be some way off and, as a result, some way down their list of priorities. It’s clear that BIG-DATA is going to give data integration vendors headaches and opportunities in equal measure, but it was also clear that the demand for BIG-DATA solutions is nascent at best.
Anyway, an excellent and educational event and I’ll be back in 5 years to check on just how ahead of the curve Informatica is/was.
Disclosure: I advise an organisation in the MDM space and Informatica acquired a company that I previously advised.