IBM announced today that it plans to buy MDM vendor Initiate Systems. As hypothesized here in this blog last week, the move was not entirely unexpected, but on the heels of last week’s announcement by Informatica to purchase Siperian, it certainly creates yet another wave in the marketplace. More moves are certain to take place as competing companies align – and realign – their Single Entity View (SEV) strategies. The key to this realignment will be for current industry players to maximize their functionality beyond “playing with matches”. That dated view of fuzzy matching is no longer enough. Not for the large data quality vendors. Certainly not for the customer.
The question of when companies like Oracle, SAP and Microsoft react – and how – will keep the blogosphere humming for awhile.
From the perspective of identity resolution – technologies that go well beyond simple matching - the IBM announcement creates a very interesting scenario. Let’s be honest… there are three organizations have been truly positioned as leaders in providing SEV functionality that helps organizations expose fuzzy matches and non-obvious relationships across data sources. IBM and Initiate are two; Infoglide Software Corporation is the third. IBM’s Identity Insight (formerly EAS), Initiate’s entity resolution, and Infoglide’s Identity Resolution Engine (IRE) all deliver the promise of SEV or “who’s who… and who knows whom” technology, and all three answer considerably more than “yes it’s a match” or “no it’s not a match”.
In the case of Initiate Systems, the entity resolution product is new, and frankly came about as a basic repackaging of their successful MDM product for the Healthcare market. IBM’s product, like Infoglide’s, was built from the ground up as an identity resolution engine by Jeff Jonas and the old SRD organization. Now, with today’s announcement, IBM seems to have created some painful duplicity in their offerings. It occurs to me that IBM has not become a global technology leader by mismanaging its products and messaging, so something’s gotta give! Which product goes away, and when, will be interesting to see.
Either way, there are now effectively two players left standing in the SEV market – IBM and Infoglide.