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Cognos and Informatica have just announced that they are upgrading their relationship from one of a marketing partnership to a strategic partnership. In particular, Cognos will be reselling Informatica’s data quality tools and will be offering professional services around data quality.
Most interesting in this announcement is the relationship that the two companies see between corporate performance management (CPM) and data quality. This is two-fold. In the first instance Cognos sees the potential for embedding data quality processes within a CPM environment. After all, it is no good providing timely and consistent data if that information is inaccurate. A key point here is that Similarity (whose data quality products Informatica acquired in 2006) were specifically designed from the outset to be amenable to use by business personnel, rather than the more technical focus that is commonly the case with such products. This is important when you consider that CPM is essentially a business-driven process.
On the flip side, you can also use CPM to manage data quality initiatives. If you think about it, and I have to admit that it hadn’t occurred to me previously (no other vendor has introduced such a capability), the precepts of performance management are exactly what you need for managing data quality programmes: you set strategic goals, develop specific initiatives, measure the success of those initiatives through a variety of metrics and feedback information in a closed-loop fashion in order to ensure that those initiatives are in line with your strategic goals.
Going a step further, which Cognos and Informatica have not done, at least as yet, exactly the same principles can be applied to data governance more generally. Here, your strategic goals are policies that may apply to data quality or master data management or the discovery and documentation of all of your data sources (including end user computing resources), or they may relate to data protection or security or anything else that may fall within the aegis of your data governance.
Of course the difficulty with applying CPM to data governance more generally is that while you may have formal policies in place, this doesn’t necessarily make them easy to measure, which is the heart and soul of CPM. Nevertheless, as the man said “if you can’t count it, it doesn’t count”. What you need to do is to formulate policies as rules and then measure adherence to those rules. Unfortunately, CPM products do not normally have such capabilities though it would not seem a great step to add such facilities if the market should demand such functionality.
While we will have to see whether the application of CPM to data governance comes about, for the time being this partnership represents a significant step forward. I expect other vendors to introduce comparable capabilities in due course but for the time being Cognos and Informatica have put themselves ahead of the game.