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Also posted on: The IM Blog
Despite recent acquisitions in the MDM market the space is still awash with many smaller players. Not all of these are well known, especially in the UK and Europe, even though they may merit closer attention. One such is Riversand, despite the fact that it has offices in the UK and Switzerland (as well as two in India, part from its headquarters in the United States).
Riversand, although it supports multi-entity environments, specialises in product information management (PIM) and, particularly, environments where there are large catalogues to maintain and produce. As such, Riversand competes, of course, with the big boys, but also with other more focused suppliers. The majority of its customers are in the retail, energy, manufacturing and distribution sectors.
There are several things that are particularly interesting about Riversand. The first is that it has built-in data quality and data governance capabilities. This is excellent from a technical perspective. It is good for users because it means that they can get a single solution from a single vendor. Moreover, the whole product was built to work together rather than the different bits having been acquired and bolted together in a way that might be reminiscent of Heath Robinson. However, there is a downside for Riversand itself because it means that the company is almost totally self-reliant: it cannot partner with third-party data quality providers because they would be competitors and it cannot partner with any data integration vendors (that is, ETL-type vendors as opposed to those offering an ESB), at least the leading ones, because they all have their own data quality suites even if they don’t offer MDM (which they do). The only exception is that the company does integrate with Address Doctor (part of Informatica). This means that Riversand does not have data quality partners (say) that will bring them into deals.
Of course, this doesn’t mean that Riversand doesn’t have any partners but the focus is on systems integrators and domain-specific partnerships.
This leads me onto the next point of differentiation, which is that the company provides domain-specific optional applications and modules, such as print publishing and digital asset management. There are also more generic add-on modules such as the integration with Address Doctor or with third-party sources such as Dun & Bradstreet, and there is also a data refinement module, which is used for retrieving structured information from unstructured documents and text. Given the prevalence of product descriptions in text fields, this will be a more or less mandatory requirement to support product data quality. In addition to this capability, the product comes with a knowledge repository that stores information on description variations, synonyms and so forth to further support the data quality function.
Thirdly, Riversand has a pre-built model and methodology for ROI assessments. This can be constructed either pre- or post-implementation (or both) as required. It is intended primarily for the use of the customer though there will, inevitably, be some input from Riversand. Given that cost justification can be a major issue for many companies wanting to implement MDM, this should be of major interest. Of course, exactly how you quantify the benefits of improvements in new product introductions, for example, is a matter of debate, but having a formalised process can only help.
My message here is simple: don’t get stuck thinking that the major players are your only choice, there are plenty of other MDM vendors worth considering and Riversand is certainly one of those.