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The MDM market may have been consolidating recently (with Informatica’s purchase of Heiler) but there is now a new entrant. Pitney Bowes Software recently launched its own MDM hub product as part of its broad Spectrum data management suite. Given that the MDM market is already over a decade old this may seem a curious time to wade in, but the relatively late entry has some advantages. Firstly the market has now matured to some extent (though is still probably the fastest growing enterprise software sector) so there is no need to educate the market about “what is MDM?”. Secondly, a new entrant can take advantage of some newer technology that would not have been feasible a decade ago, and that is indeed what has happened here.
This new MDM product has taken a bold step by using as its database platform, not the obvious choice, a relational database (which is what the competition use), but a NoSQL database. As ever with a different database choice, this has pros and cons. This graph database has no need for pesky database indices and, due to its structure, is very well suited to certain types of analysis, such as exploring relationships between data, that is awkward to do in regular SQL. As it happens that is handy for a number of common MDM use cases, where for example you may want to explore the links between customers (such as seeing whether they are related in some way e.g. are in the same household, or perhaps live in the same street or even belong to the same club, assuming you have access to such data). Other examples would be in fraud detection or looking for non-obvious patterns of behaviour as some secretive government agencies need to. As an MDM hub, the database does not need to worry about update processing or transaction integrity as an all-purpose relational database has to. Moreover Pitney Bowes’ existing and well-established data quality tools means that there is no issue with having to build in links to data quality technology, since this is already a core part of the Spectrum platform. There are also opportunities, such as providing pre-built links to social media feeds and, in the B2B space, potentially building links to business information such as D&B or Bloomberg data.
Clearly any new product will face challenges. Conservative corporate buyers may be wary of a product using a novel database technology, and the company will need to demonstrate the value of their solution through properly documented case studies as customers start to deploy the software. At this stage the marketing of the product appears to be in a formative stage, and tighter messages need to be developed about the product value proposition and differentiation. However, on balance, this new entry is a positive thing: it further validates the market, and brings an innovative approach how MDM can be applied to novel use cases that is based on technology rather than the Powerpoint-heavy but technology-lite approach of some existing offerings.