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At its customer conference, Informatica unifies cloud-agnostic data management

TBR perspective

According to TBR’s December 2020 Digital Transformation: Voice of the Customer Research, 61% of respondents indicate cloud computing is the leading technology they purchase as part of their central digital transformation (DT) initiatives. Over the course of the next five years, enterprises will continue to lead with cloud-first strategies — a trend that will be accelerated due to lessons learned from the COVID-19 pandemic. As customers move outside the data center, control over IT assets rapidly changes, as by no longer owning their hardware, customers can focus on data to drive innovation. Since cloud migration is the first step in unlocking data insights, Informatica is positioning its new solutions, most notably Intelligent Data Management Cloud (IDMC), as the foundation for true digital transformation. While maintaining strong ties to technical specialists, such as data scientists and engineers, Informatica’s ability to enable DT with a cloud-first approach positions the company to expand its applicability to nontechnical influencers and evolve its portfolio for a data-driven economy, which will be underpinned by cloud infrastructure.

By unifying data management with the cloud, IDMC will serve as the connection point for Informatica’s entire portfolio

Historically, Informatica’s Intelligent Data Platform (IDP) has underpinned much of the company’s core portfolio and provided customers a landing spot for their data management, integration, quality and security services. However, as cloud continues to dominate the technology landscape, Informatica’s strategy and market messaging are evolving to address customers’ challenges around storing data in the cloud. While leveraging the same underlying technology as IDP, IDMC takes data integration and management to the next level, offering customers over 260 services natively built into the platform, which can be deployed in the public or private cloud and consumed in a pay-as-you-go manner. Meanwhile, at the core of the platform remains Informatica’s embedded AI engine, CLAIRE, which acts as a system of record for metadata and helps customers derive insights across assets and product modules. The launch of IDMC reaffirms Informatica’s commitment to the cloud and modern applications, as IDMC serves as a complete replacement of IDP, which largely supported traditional software. Nonetheless, with a more scalable delivery model, the release mirrors the modular approach Informatica has always applied to data, offering customers choice and flexibility when it comes to the services that can be deployed on top of the platform, and their underlying data sources. For example, during the event’s opening remarks, Informatica Chief Product Officer Jitesh Ghai discussed how the company’s services are agnostic across infrastructures and data processing methods. An example of this impartiality is highlighted in services like Database Ingestion, which allows customers to take data residing in an Oracle database and move it into storage with an Azure data lake, for example. Informatica’s Data Integration service on IDMC is another example of how customers can leverage Informatica to integrate data across leading public clouds as an alternative to using three competing services from each cloud provider.

Supported by the cloud, Informatica’s platform services and capabilities meet customers’ specific business needs

Customer experience (CX) also remains the cornerstone of digital transformation efforts, and customers are adopting CX frameworks backed by emerging technologies, including AI and machine learning (ML) to complement their back-office operations. CX remains integral to Informatica’s strategy, evidenced by the January 2021 launch of Informatica Customer 360 as a SaaS solution. Customer & Business 360 is one of the core capabilities supported by IDMC in providing customers with a single-pane view of data across key business functions. Other capabilities of the platform that are in line with the main benefits of cloud computing include data discovery, ingestion, preparation, cleansing, records, delivery and governance. Throughout the event, one of the customer highlights was from Peloton (Nasdaq: PTON), a born-in-the-cloud company that has adopted IDMC to support its daily volume of roughly 10 million to 15 million records. Further, the New York State Department of Health adopted Informatica’s platform and leveraged the benefits of cloud-native analytics to support decisions and drive efficiencies during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. Emphasizing data-driven business initiatives is a key gap IDMC aims to fill, as the platform not only supports customers’ IT initiatives, such as data engineering and warehousing, but also targets core business functions, such as e-commerce and finance. TBR suspects these core capabilities delivered through IDMC will provide Informatica with a strong competitive position, as the company unifies IT teams and line-of-business leaders through a cohesive data platform. 

What would have been a large gathering in the heart of Las Vegas became Informatica’s biggest virtual event, which hosted over 10,000 registrants and featured talks from customers, partners and industry experts on their experiences with data and the critical role it is playing in the digital economy. Informatica World 2021’s theme of going from “Binary to Extraordinary” speaks to Informatica’s main announcement — the launch of its Intelligent Data Management Cloud — as the company looks to support a variety of data-centric use cases, which are positioned for success when built in the cloud. While Informatica’s neutral standing — as the “the Switzerland of data,” as CEO Amit Walia puts it — remains unchanged, a cloud-first approach positions the company to meet a unique set of challenges enterprises face in the cloud, regardless of underlying infrastructure or deployment method.

‘Every company is a technology company’ is new mantra for post-digital world

TBR perspective

“Every company is a technology company.” That combined description and imperative from Accenture Group Chief Executive—Technology and CTO Paul Daugherty made clear how the company sees its clients now and entering the post-digital future. All companies will need the technological savvy and innovative culture of digital natives while pivoting from pilots to execution. In simple terms, digital is everywhere, so every company must be able to execute digitally, including developing a digital core, optimizing operations and investing in new technology-driven offerings. For Accenture, maturation as a technology company has resulted in an increase in technology-centric headcount, paired with an emphasis on platforms and tools (see below analysis on myNav, myWizard and myConcerto). A new recently announced growth model has shifted former Accenture Technology leader for North America, Annette Rippert, to be the new Group Chief Executive leading the combined Strategy and Consulting services, further cementing Accenture’s role in moving its clients toward a future where “every company is a technology company.” Building on the technology mantra, Accenture can now bring leadership deeply rooted in emerging technologies applied at scale to its strategy, supply chain & operations and talent & organization consulting clients. Based on Rippert’s long-standing emphasis on Accenture’s relationships with technology partners, clients can expect ecosystems and alliances will factor substantially into the company’s strategic advice as the post-digital future nears. 

Following Daugherty’s presentation, Accenture CIO Penelope Prett emphasized the role cloud continues to play in Accenture’s own digital journey, even describing cloud as “mandatory to capitalize on innovation.” Prett noted that roughly 95% of Accenture’s applications reside in the cloud, with adoption of some legacy architectures still a challenge. Among the lessons Accenture has drawn from its own experience are the need to consider the pace of business change and the need to account and plan for interoperability and long-term simplifications. Echoing Daugherty, this imperative to move to cloud at scale and to innovate plays well into Accenture’s overall go-to-market strategy around technology enablement.

Overall, Accenture’s belief that “Every company is a technology company” raises questions about how the company will engage with its clients going forward. Accenture has excelled at developing talent with specializations and exceptional, often industry-specific skills. As the company shifts toward assembling teams with diverse talents and skills and takes those teams to scale, how prepared is Accenture’s middle management leadership? What resources have they dedicated to training the military equivalent of majors and lieutenant colonels? Prett spoke of teams assembling within hours, rather than weeks, which provides a tremendous boost to productivity, provided leadership can keep up.  

In addition, Accenture’s evolving approach to industries will come under pressure from two forces. Clients, according to Accenture and its peers, increasingly look beyond their own industries for best practices, recognizing that emerging technology solutions typically start with horizontal capabilities applied within an industry and business context. Internally, Accenture must continue to share broad, industry-agnostic best practices across the entire company, even as it develops a common language, separate from industry. Secondly, ecosystem partners such as Google (Nasdaq: GOOGL) and Amazon Web Services (Nasdaq: AMZN) are not organized by industry, which may make it easier for Accenture to align with those hyperscalers. Though more traditional partners, such as SAP (NYSE: SAP), pushing an industry-led approach, through initiatives such as Model Company, may challenge Accenture’s ability to manage competing ecosystem pressures.

The Accenture Technology Symposium brought together over 200 Accenture (NYSE: ACN) clients, along with industry leaders and practitioners. Similar to last year’s event, Accenture discussed and showcased disrupting technologies in areas including cloud, blockchain, AI, automation and security while using client case studies and testimonials to highlight Accenture’s innovation-led approach to solving business problems.  

In a day of personal stories, EY showcases the results of corporate commitment to talent recruiting

A small but influential group from EY’s leadership team, including incoming Chairman and CEO Carmine Di Sibio, were on hand in a newly redesigned wavespace to recognize the winners of the EY NextWave Data Science Challenge. An extension of the program deployed in Australia last year, this global challenge resulted in 12,000 submissions from 4,500 participants from 477 universities in 15 countries.

The basic challenge: Predict human traffic patterns

The overarching goal of the project was to take a data set provided by EY partner Skyhook of citizens in the greater Atlanta area. The challenge was to take the citizens’ locations as of 3 p.m. and predict where those citizens would be located at 4 p.m. EY Global Analytics Program Director Antonio Prieto, who spearheaded this effort that will be expanded on in November, stated the intention was to connect students to a challenge that resonates with EY’s mission of building a better working world, which can be done through analytics-optimized smart cities.

Participants were allowed to enter multiple submissions as their models evolved and as they generated new “what if” scenarios. The award winners received cash prizes, EY badges and EY internships. The winners and their locations were:

First Place: Sergio Banchero is studying electronics in Australia and is a native of Brazil.

Second Place (shared): Katherine Edgley and Philipp Barthelme shared the second-place prize and are both studying applied mathematics at the University of Edinburgh.

Third Place: Chia Yew Ken of Singapore has an affinity for natural language processing and finds the parallels to AI pattern recognition interesting.

Each participant presented their basic findings and discussed the underpinning mathematical calculations and manipulations in ways that challenged this mature worker with a liberal arts background to comprehend. The incremental improvements on the algorithm scores seemed slight until put into context by Banchero, who translated his algorithm’s net improvement over the average of all submissions as ultimately capable of reducing 3,200 pounds of CO2 emissions, which would require rain forest acreage equivalent to 16 football fields to remediate naturally.