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IBM to Acquire Initiate Systems

by Andrew White  |  February 3, 2010  |  2 Comments

Seems the rumors from last week were well founded.   IBM released the following press release: Strengthens IBM’s Ability to Help Healthcare and Government Sectors Use Information to Improve Public Health and ServicesSo another MDM vendors get’s acquired.  There are only a few smaller MDM of Customer and MDM of Product data, and generalists, left.  Seems the chips have fallen, and most big bets are made.  But who has the vision, the money and now the assets, to dominate the still fast evolving MDM market?  War has been elevated from a number of small, underdeveloped states, to large scale, first world nations.  Should be fun to watch.  Any volunteers to reconcile MDM product strategy at IBM?

On the vendor call with Arvind Krishna, GM, IBM Information Management and Bill Conroy, CEO and President, Initiate.  I am thinking that these guys won’t even mention MDM.  The new name is “data integrity solutions”.  I wonder why IBM would want to downplay an MDM connection.  Is it because it would create the obvious statement of MDM product strategy complexity at IBM?  Anyway, 10 minutes in and MDM was mentioned once, almost in passing…

OK MDM was mentioned a second time – in first 12 minutes.  Bottom line – good buy, by IBM, but which product line will this acquisition roll up into????

18 minutes in and the argument is that Initiate is very much a business application solution – the example shared focusing on the single view of patient across healthcare network with business oriented analytics.  This explains nicely how CDI products continue to evolve from “integration” plays (when CDI was very much message/transaction based) to a place that is where the PIM vendors were (more business app, and lacking transaction/message support).  Good example of more “convergence” in the MDM space…  But still, only 2 mentions of MDM…

First question from the floor – how does this play in IBM MDM strategy?  IBM’s response – signals a shift to more verticalization of MDM.  This is obvious (it has been one of the five vectors of MDM complexity for several years), but why didn’t IBM lead off with this view/strategy?

Bottom line – seems like IBM is NOT positioning the acquisition as a boost to their MDM strategy; it seems MDM is just one “use case” for the Initiate asset.  Good for healthcare users; troubling for IBM MDM product strategy.

Category: customer-data-integration-cdi  ibm  mdm-of-customer-data  

Andrew White
Research VP
8 years at Gartner
22 years IT industry

Andrew White is a research vice president and agenda manager for MDM and Analytics at Gartner. His main research focus is master data management (MDM) and the drill-down topic of creating the "single view of the product" using MDM of product data. He was co-chair… Read Full Bio

Thoughts on IBM to Acquire Initiate Systems

  1. Either IBM is internally confused about its CDI strategy or leadership wants to keep their current or near future Websphere Customer Center customers in the dark about a potential shift in CDI strategy. It seems to me that IBM’s CDI strategy at this point is muddled at best – Websphere Customer Center, Infosphere Master Data Management Server and now Initiate’s product offer somewhat similar and overlapping functionality. For Initiate’s product one can only hope that IBM stays committed to development and support and doesn’t simply let it die slowly as a vertical niche product. Initiate Systems as a product and as a fine company with bright minds deserves better than that, and IBM can create superior products by integrating them into its mainstream product platforms.

  2. I think Initiate buy is clearly aimed to dominate the verticals where WCC or IBM MDM could not make much inroads. Initiate gives two clear advantage – 1. healthcare and Govt sector dominance for IBM 2. Quick implementation and moderate TCO for clients as a first step into MDM journey.
    Would be intersting to see Oracle’s reaction.. Although with latest UCM 8.2 release they tried to address the burning issues of MDM like DQ and Data Goveranance…but will that be enough? Will Oracle acquire Informatica?…

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