If Seinfeld Evaluated Master Data Management Vendors

Master Data Management (MDM) M&A frenzy hit a peak in 2009 and 2010 when many of the large vendors such as Dun & Bradstreet (acquired Purisma), IBM (acquired Initiate Systems and before that DWL), Oracle (acquired Siebel with UCM) and Informatica (acquired Identity Systems, Siperian, Heiler) felt the time was right to bring to gather the pieces for a full end-to-end solution. They offered not only the MDM Platform with all the trimmings, but also the hardware for an on premise deployment, the RDBMS, and that juicy big services gig that requires some serious process re-engineering for data governance across your enterprise. With the rise in cloud and SaaS as well as big data technologies, a new breed of MDM vendors have emerged. Looking to bring the efficiencies of the cloud to the 10+ year old discipline these startups/smaller vendors are making MDM affordable and ubiquitous for all companies.

How might the RFP and evaluation cycles be changing with smaller more nimble cloud vendors in the mix? Perhaps this is how Seinfeld would see this convoluted almost humorous dance between prospects, smaller and big "mega" vendors, during an MDM evaluation process …

Mega Vendor: “Is it our turn yet to demo?”

Prospect: It’ll be 10, 15 minutes

Mega Vendor: “Can’t you just let us in, that smaller XYZ cloud company seems to be getting all the attention.”

Prospect: “Sorry, you have to keep your boys away from their boys

Mega Vendor: I’m getting a little upset!

Prospect: “Well, you shouldn’t have acquired ABC Company without clearly thinking about your cloud MDM Strategy. Not that there’s anything wrong with that

Smaller Vendor: “We can demo and talk all day, but I recommend we show you what we can do right now with your data so you can decide for yourself.”

Prospect: “Sounds good, I want to end the evaluation on a high note, but Mega Vendor needs a few weeks, so to be fair to them we will let them complete their process.”

(3 weeks later)

Mega Vendor: “Here you go, I think we’ve proven that we are Masters of our Domain

Prospect: “Yes, but this doesn't cover all of our challenges. It’s just some pre-fixed MDM data model that only works for a make your own pie franchise. I see massive customization and consulting dollars if we go with this.”

Smaller Vendor: “Here’s our MDM solution and it includes data-driven applications specifically tailored for your business, and you can just configure it as your needs change.”

Prospect: “I’m in to it”

Mega Vendor: “You’re in to it? Are you crazy? Smaller vendors are like the sun, you take a quick glimpse and you look away!”

Prospect: “I like their technology, they’re cloud-based, innovative and the ‘complete opposite’ of any mega vendor we’ve spoken to”

Mega Vendor: “Serenity Now! You’re not choosing me?”

Prospect: “It’s not you. It’s me.”

Mega Vendor: “You’re giving us the it’s not you, it’s me routine? We invented it’s not you it’s me!”

Prospect:Yada, yada, yada

Smaller Vendor: “Yeah! This is indeed the Winter, Spring and Summer of the smaller cloud-based MDM Vendor.”

There you have it, from marine biologists to architects and porno stars named ‘Buck Naked’, everyone wants to be your MDM salesman. While mega vendors spread the FUD of smaller vendors not guaranteed to survive with staff layoffs (also known as ‘shrinkage’), they are hearing more often than not “No MDM deal for you!”

Summing up on a more serious note, smaller vendors survive with unique and innovative technology. Gartner in particular agrees with this point. Cloud is a must for lower costs, time-to-value and many are supporting more data types than just master data. Being more adaptive to customer needs and the willingness to pay attention to requirements which yield a competitive advantage for the customer are also key. Partnerships, as long as they are not just paper ones, do round out a complete solution and diversification from pure mega vendor stacks allows customers to have some pricing leverage. For mega vendors, it’s sometimes a case of their technology not measuring up to the requirements, or a converging roadmap that isn’t round the corner. Whatever the reason, the window and gap does eventually close for all small companies in any market. MDM is no exception, they either grow up to be a bigger vendor, get acquired, or forever dream of being “an architect”.


Art Vandelay

Hope you enjoyed this satire and spotted your favorite Seinfeld quotes and episodes adapted in the article with links to their corresponding YouTube clips.