I had the pleasure of attending Informatica’s annual analyst event. It was a good couple of days, filled with lots of god insight and it helped me understand the Informatica strategy. There was much to look at during the event that is pleasing to the eye, and suggesting that progress is being made and success will continue. However, there are some other aspects that are more fun to explore.
Such vendor led analyst events are always fun. I liken them to a tango. The vendor and analyst dance; the vendor leads and in so doing, drops breadcrumbs along the way for us to pick up and interpret.
As an ex vendor product strategist, one realizes that there is ‘the’ vendor strategy. Some of this leaks out at such analyst events; much does not. Analysts agree to attend such events and it is our job to determine ‘the’ strategy or its intentions from the breadcrumbs of ‘a‘ strategy that are dropped as we tango. Each analyst read different breadcrumbs (or see different breadcrumbs) which is why different analysts perceive ‘the’ strategy differently.
If you are a good analyst and you cover the vendor, this tango can be fun. Much is left unsaid in the question and answer sessions. Much criticism is offered, and sometimes extra bread crumbs are exposed. Sometimes vagaries are given to help protect ‘the’ strategy; sometimes it (‘the’ strategy) becomes clearer.
Here are some of the bread crumbs I walked away. These are not a detailed analysis or interpretation of ‘a’ or ‘the’ strategy- just a few of the breadcrumbs I spotted.
The opening few hours presented how Informatica is accounting for its business opportunity. There was not much to argue about. Nice big numbers; weak competition; wide open market. All good stuff.
My initial breadcrumb was that we jumped way too early into the logical go-to market model, built around the 5 product categories Informatica sells. These are good categories, and they do imply aspects of strategy. But they are not alone a strategy.
Strategy is about choices taken: where to play; how to win; how to organize. There are some explicit and some implicit choices shared about where the vendor wants to play, and where it does not. There were too many ‘all inclusive’ positions. There were a few signs describing how the vendor plans to win in its target markets. But the vendor missed a beat in that it could have presented a more comprehensive and explicit strategy, without giving away the farm. It lacked that coherence for me.
Second, the early foray into the five product categories, though useful from a product positioning perspective, did not explain (for me, at least), equally across two other dimensions:
The master data management overview clearly showed a strong business’s outcome driven offering, more so than the other product offerings. The cloud (data) integration product line emphasized how it can save money and how easily it can be deployed. The data governance product line talked about archiving etc. There was no dialog about how cloud integration might enable business (or process) innovation, or how information governance can help assure or enable better business outcomes. It was left to MDM to talk about line of business users and emotive business outcomes like reduced time to market and increased revenue or service.
- There was no thread that wove the product lines together, as if there was no interlocking message or vision. Additionally, some of the five silos where not orchestrated as well as they might. For example, there was nothing listed under the Data Integration Hub (DIH) capability that is not needed for an MDM program. In fact MDM is a DIH for master data. And MDM was presented separately to data governance as if it is separate to information governance: it is not. The material was – for sure- useful – but I would have explained the interlocking and synergistic nature of the piece parts with a single thread.
I am not promoting MDM over other initiatives; I am calling out that MDM links managing information to innovation and better business outcomes. Why was MDM alone so positioned? I would have thought that Informatica’s future would be to become more business applicable. Even business necessary.
I also found it interesting that the word ‘trust’, in conjunction to information, was mentioned more by the CTO than in either of the other product sessions. This is good- from a visionary perspective albeit disconnected from the more timely independent product positions. However I think this could have been a new thread between the silos. I believe it will , in time, even if Informatica does not lead that charge.
Each product group had lots of new stuff to share, and this was exciting. I do think the Heiler asset, coupled with ILM, CEP, DI and DQ, gives Informatica a great opportunity to create a unique message in the market. Only time will tell if they can figure it out.