Lies, damned lies and marketing

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Content Copyright © 2005 Bloor. All Rights Reserved.

We are all familiar with the title of this article when it reads “statistics” rather than “marketing” but actually it is more accurate when referring to the latter; this is because it is the interpretation of statistics and not the statistics themselves that are misleading. And guess who does the interpreting? Typically, people trying to ‘market’ their own agenda. Isn’t that what a politician does? Or anyone else with an axe to grind?

Marketing has a lot to answer for: for example, it gave us VHS instead of the technically superior Betamax. It also gave us Oracle rather than Ingres and, while there may have been other factors involved, marketing certainly had a significant role to play in the rise of Oracle and, conversely, the fall of Ingres.

A classic case of marketing, in the worst sense of that term, was recently brought to my attention. I received two press releases, on the same day, from Firstlogic and Trillium respectively. Both were discussing their respective partnerships with Informatica.

Now, in order to understand this you need to know the back-plot. Historically, Informatica was agnostic about data quality vendors. It had relationships with partners in that space, and worked with them when appropriate but was not formally allied to any one supplier. However, as Ascential (now IBM) gradually developed its own portfolio of data quality tools, and as the data quality market consolidated (often with Informatica’s competitors), Informatica realised that it needed stronger links and closer integration with products in the data quality arena and it therefore announced a partnership with Firstlogic, whereby it would more closely integrate PowerCenter with Firstlogic software, and there would be reselling agreements between the two companies. On the other hand, this didn’t prevent users adopting third party data quality solutions if they wanted to.

So far, so good; but pressure from customers has led to Informatica developing another such partnership, as recently announced in Trillium’s press release. This is all well and good and it is perfectly reasonable that Trillium should make such an announcement. However, Firstlogic’s press release is more about spin.

The press release from FirstLogic announces that it has signed an expanded OEM agreement with Informatica. Now, that may well be true – I’m sure it is. But what is strange is that in the 650 word press release the only reference to the expansion of this partnership, apart from the headline announcement, is that “the expanded OEM agreement allows for the immediate addition of Firstlogic’s data-matching functionality to PowerCenter environments as well as access to IQ8 functionality.

This statement is strange: it suggests that data matching was not previously included in the partnership agreement, which seems odd for a data quality solution. Be that as it may, all of the rest of the copy is about how successful the partnership has been, how many joint customers there are, and so on.

The bottom line is that this was a defensive press release from Firstlogic designed to steal Trillium’s thunder. Now, I don’t have a problem with Firstlogic crowing about how successful it has been – but please don’t dress it up as something it’s not.

Marketing is something I can live with, spin is something else altogether.