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If Seinfeld evaluated MDM vendors

As Master Data Management becomes more widely accepted as a major initiative, the number of hook ups reflect the growing need for smaller best of breed players like Siperian (disclosure my former company), Initiate Systems, Kalido and others to strike up partnerships or OEM deals to round out their portfolio of offerings to satisfy major prospects, who are being courted by the mega vendors.  The likes of IBM and Oracle (less so SAP) position themselves as having a full end-to-end solution. Meaning they will not only sell you the MDM Platform with all the trimmings, but also the hardware it runs on (coming for Oracle with the Sun acquisition), the RDBMS, and that juicy big consulting gig that requires some serious process re-engineering for data governance across your enterprise. The MDM vendor landscape has changed somewhat over the last 4 years with the mega vendors like IBM acquiring DWL, Oracle taking out Siebel (UCM), D&B buying Purisma, and SAP swallowing up Business Objects.

So how are smaller vendors surviving the onslaught of the mega vendors during RFP and evaluation cycles? Perhaps this is how Seinfeld would see this convoluted almost humorous dance between prospects, smaller vendors and 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, XYZ 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 MDM Strategy. Not that there’s anything wrong with that”
Smaller Vendor: “We can demo and talk all day, but I recommend we do a POC, cause I can sum up what the mega vendor will be able to do in one word … Nothing”
Prospect: “Sounds good, I want to end the evaluation on a high note”
(A day or two later)
Mega Vendor: “Here you go, I think we’ve proven that we are Masters of our Domain”
Prospect: “Yes, but this isn’t anything to do with our problem. It’s just some pre-fixed MDM application 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 specifically tailored for your business and we propose additions through expert partner-a-trois to keep the cost down”
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 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 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 laying staff off (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. Being more adaptive to customer needs and the willingness to pay attention to requirements which yield a competitive advantage for the customer. 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

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