Even in this recessionary economy Informatica has been defying spending constraints. At its annual analyst summit (Twitter #INFAAnalyst) the company unveiled its growth strategies. Informatica has more than 4,500 customers for data integration and information management and now is turning its attention to the data in social media networks. Our firm has already identified social media as a key technology that businesses must embrace over the next decade to improve competitiveness or just keep up. Informatica already helps IT departments become better data stewards through a variety of methods and supports the executive mission of the CIO. My colleague David Menninger will comment on its vision and direction for its data integration portfolio; I will focus on its decision to use its technology for social media, which is part of a forthcoming product roadmap. Regarding the importance of embracing social media in this area, see David’s research and educational agenda in information management for 2011.
Informatica is trying to help organizations improve marketing, sales and customer service not only by integrating social media information into its data repositories but also within social media applications themselves. Having 850 million active people in Facebook and 100 million in LinkedIn creates mass channels to connect both business people and consumers and creates data sources rich in behavioral and demographic information that business are beginning to covet. (By the way, whenever a vendor starts marketing its ability to provide technology for social media, I do a quick analysis of its spokespeople’s use of social media; at Informatica, many of its technology leaders are on LinkedIn and Facebook, but many are not very active on Twitter. I think they should cover all the bases and engage its own social media promotion of its technology.)
At the analyst summit Informatica demonstrated how its data integration technology can tap into social media data repositories and more importantly link them to corporate data repositories and applications for use in new business initiatives. To make it clear, Informatica is providing the data integration technology to automate and streamline these efforts but not the actual applications that a business would use to deploy into social media channels. I see two key areas in which Informatica’s products can add significant value in utilizing social media data.
Informatica has been advancing its master data management (MDM) product to ensure easier governance and linking of internal data for business needs. Now it is addressing the challenge of linking the data that comprises an organization’s corporate identity with its social media identity. This is no easy task since there is no obvious connection between these business and personal worlds until the customer acknowledges it by linking an account number to a social media channel like Facebook or LinkedIn. To advance MDM and the potential of what Informatica calls Social MDM, it has hired industry veteran Dennis Moore (Twitter @dbmoore) to lead its efforts. Having worked at enterprise software heavyweights Oracle and SAP, he knows the challenges of not just creating data but housing and preparing it for further use. Informatica’s technology helps ensure a consistent identification of the individual across various social media channels.
Executives Ivan Chong (Twitter @ichong) and Girish Pancha (Twitter @GirishPancha) outlined how Informatica applies its data quality technology to social media. If an organization makes a link between an individual identification (technically called a party) and a social media ID, the Informatica tool can enrich and augment the data with more information found on social media channels. This enriched data could include the individual’s location, industry, favorites, birthday or other information the person has authorized to be shared. Having a complete record is critical to effectively engaging customers in marketing, selling and service.
Applying information management to social media can serve the needs of business and the CIO. Initiatives to link social media are being driven by marketing and business executives who seek to bring their corporate presence and accessibility to products and services to social media. Following an onslaught of new social media applications that also operate on mobile devices, the amount of information available in social media channels is huge. Informatica’s challenge here is to bring its technology for new social media initiatives in business to the attention of these leaders, who likely are not familiar with this provider of data integration technology. Informatica demonstrated how its technology would work with a Facebook application and a company example called Hot, which was interesting but somewhat confusing in its approach. I tried to access the example on Facebook but could not find it; apparently anyone in marketing who wants to access and try it will have to talk to Informatica. I recommend that Informatica apply the technology to its own customers and developer network to demonstrate how it works for their businesses and then look at how it can advance its marketing efforts as good steps to validate the new capabilities.
One of Informatica’s key technology partners is MicroStrategy, which has launched new products for social media intelligence that I recently assessed (See: “MicroStrategy Infuses Social Media Intelligence into Marketing”) and develops social media applications on its mobile application platform. It is interesting that neither of them is promoting the other in the social media realm. There is a natural bond between the two companies and they have found success together in the business intelligence and data integration markets, so I wonder why they are not more connected in their social media initiatives. MicroStrategy is investing in its Gateway products, which already link to Facebook and is expanding to other social media channels; why not leave the data-related side of social media to Informatica? The two are partnering on MicroStrategy’s cloud computing services. MicroStrategy could build the social media business applications and Informatica could provide the data integration to bring the data together in a consistent form. Together the two companies could become a social media business software heavyweight.
Informatica has taken the most progressive position of any vendor in data integration and information management toward social media. Now it will have to educate marketing and social media executives to perceive what it offers as part of the technology requirements for their initiatives or hope that IT gets involved to recommend Informatica as the key provider of data integration technology. As part of this effort, Informatica should build an ecosystem of partners like MicroStrategy and others that are closer to the applications and systems used by marketing and will name it as the trusted data integration provider for social media. Another example for Informatica would be to work with recruiting application software companies who are beginning to link social media sources as a channel to find pools of new talent that our benchmark in social recruiting found to be a top priority. In addition Informatica should link this to its cloud computing efforts, through which social media operates and which will require integration from on-premises and other cloud-based systems.
Informatica has taken the lead on the integration of data from social media into business. I applaud this move, which should help it grow from 2011 revenue of $784 million to be more than a three billion-dollar software company over the next decade. Informatica’s success in helping customers process large volumes of data is evident, and our firm recognized Informatica and its customer in our 2011 Ventana Research Leadership Award for Big Data. In addition Informatica has deepened its value for the lines of business, which I advocated in my analysis and recommendations last year. The largest challenge for Informatica is to make all of this simpler to do using its Informatica PowerExchange for Social Media and further outlined in this product brochure I found by searching on the Informatica website. It provided some great examples at the analyst summit and now needs to communicate a product roadmap and release schedule for its new social media endeavors beyond the PowerExchange connectors. Consider a dialog with Informatica to determine how it can help you integrate and use of data from inside your business with social media data.
Mark Smith – CEO & Chief Research Officer