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How Informatica uses the cloud to empower a data-driven enterprise

Overview

Setting the stage for what ended up being the primary theme at Informatica World 2022 — Data is your platform — Informatica CEO Amit Walia walked attendees through two emerging trends: the importance of scalable infrastructure through cloud computing, and how AI and machine learning (ML) are no longer just about automating processes but also about enabling predictive intelligence. These trends, while well recognized in theory, are more challenging for businesses to put into practice, particularly due to the proliferation of data and the number of users looking to access said data, including both technical and nontechnical personas.

Informatica’s solution to data complexity is rooted in one of the company’s core values — platform centricity — but the move to essentially replace Intelligent Data Platform with IDMC, after years of innovation and a slight disruption from COVID-19, is now taking Informatica’s approach to data management and integration to new heights. With IDMC in the cloud, Informatica is better positioning itself to help clients translate data into valuable insights at a level that cannot be realized on premises.

In addition to being cloud-native, IDMC is infused with AI, addressing the other emerging trend called out by Walia — the need for AI-powered intelligence. All Informatica capabilities are built on CLAIRE, an automated metadata engine that processes 32 trillion transactions per month, and tie back into IDMC. While the ROI for AI technology is still hard to justify for many businesses, another key factor in the low adoption of the technology is that many businesses are working with complex, siloed data, which means AI models could fall short and lead to inaccuracies.

CLAIRE is designed to address a range of operational, runtime and automation use cases — from auto-scaling to anomaly detection — and acts as a wrapper around IDMC to enable fully automated data management and governance processes. By bringing the power of cloud and AI into one integrated platform, Informatica uses IDMC to help customers focus on the only thing they truly own in the cloud: their data. The result of a $1 billion, six-year investment, IDMC consists of seven core modules, with its value proposition largely stemming from its modularity and the ability to allow customers to pick and choose capabilities and services based on their industry, business and use case.

Informatica expands platform capabilities, driving additional value for its comprehensive, cloud-native solution

New innovations emphasize uniting IT and business functions to improve efficiency

With IDMC, Informatica has solidified its platform approach, but as cited by various customers, the company’s ability to continually offer new capabilities is what drives additional value, by addressing more horizontal and vertical use cases in the data life cycle. Perhaps the most notable announcement at Informatica World 2022, which seemed to garner particular excitement from product leaders and customers, was the general availability of Informatica Data Loader. Jitesh Ghai, Informatica’s chief product officer, led a demo of Data Loader, which is a free, self-service tool that ingests data from over 30 out-of-the-box systems into Google Cloud’s popular data warehouse solution, BigQuery.

As part of the demo, we saw a scenario play out where a marketing analyst needs access to more data to effectively run a campaign. The hypothetical marketing analyst then accesses the Integration module within IDMC to pull data from Marketo using a drop-down tool to access BigQuery through which data can be loaded in only a few steps. This integration could end up acting as a time-saver for large organizations and speaks to the innovative ways Informatica is getting data into the hands of line-of-business teams.

At the event, Informatica also announced INFACore, which targets more technical users, such as data scientists and engineers, allowing them to clean and manage data in a single function. As a low-code plug-in for popular frameworks, such as Jupyter notebooks, INFACore is designed to improve the productivity of the technical user, but naturally this productivity trickles up to business functions. For instance, after using INFACore to cleanse data through a single function, the data scientist can publish a clean data set to the Informatica Marketplace, where other teams within an organization can access it.

Another key innovation called out in opening talks with Ghai was ModelServe, which allows users to upload, monitor and manage ML models within their Informatica data pipelines. There are many ML models in production, but businesses are still looking for ways to scale them from an operational perspective. In talks with more than one customer at the event, the common interface within IDMC came up as a value-add when attempting to scale a data team, suggesting customers are awaiting ModelServe’s general availability as it will allow users to register and manage ML models directly within IDMC.

Informatica strengthens SaaS portfolio, building in intelligence from the data model up

While Informatica’s platform capabilities get much of the market’s attention, the company also has a broad portfolio of IDMC-enabled SaaS offerings, which play a key role in the data management journey, complementing warehousing, integration and automation. As a native service within Informatica’s Master Data Management (MDM) solution, 360 applications act as a gateway for transforming customer experience in the cloud, something we saw in action through the product demo of Supplier 360 SaaS.

Through IDMC, CLAIRE recognized a defective part from a supplier of a hypothetical company, and teams were able to use Supplier 360 SaaS to identify which customers were impacted by the faulty part and automatically notify customer service so they can launch a refund program to keep customers satisfied. Informatica also released various industry and domain extensions for its 360 applications and will continue to offer new packaged offerings available in a SaaS model, providing customers more ways to onboard and manage data.

Joining the industry cloud bandwagon, Informatica verticalizes IDMC

It is no secret that industry specialization is re-emerging as a leading trend in the cloud space, as a maturing enterprise customer base demands solutions that suit their unique IT and business processes. During the event, Informatica unveiled new IDMC customizations for financial services, healthcare and life sciences. These three offerings join IDMC for Retail in Informatica’s industry cloud portfolio to further address demand for purpose-built solutions that will limit the need for customization.

Findings from TBR’s Cloud Infrastructure & Platforms Customer Research continue to indicate that some enterprises are wary of industry cloud solutions, dismissing them as marketing ploys. Other enterprises, however, find them worth evaluating. For instance, in talks with a representative from a hedge fund, we found that the company initially chose a competing MDM solution because it specialized in asset management with its own specific data dictionary but was torn as it viewed Informatica’s MDM as ahead of the competition in terms of capabilities. We can expect Informatica to expand in other industries, including specific subverticals, with additional data models, custom user interfaces and data quality rules to appeal to these customers.

Continued integrations and go-to-market synergies with hyperscalers help Informatica maintain data neutrality

For a company that markets itself as the “Switzerland of data,” Informatica’s ability to make its offerings accessible across leading cloud platforms is critical. Partnering across the cloud landscape is no longer a differentiator, it is a necessity and something customers clearly find value in as they gravitate toward multicloud environments. During the event, Walia welcomed several partner executives both in-person and virtually to discuss new joint offerings and go-to-market synergies the company is forming with cloud service providers to deliver more choice and flexibility and for joint clients.

      • The ubiquity of Microsoft’s cloud portfolio allows Informatica to provide clients a unified data architecture. Informatica and Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT) have a well-established relationship, which at its core is focused on migrating data warehouses to the cloud but is evolving and making Informatica relevant across the Microsoft Cloud stack, including Azure, Power Platform and 365 applications. For example, Informatica is typically well known for its integration with Azure Synapse, but the company also integrates with the Dynamics 365 SaaS data model to enable Customer 360 analytics. Expanding its presence throughout the Microsoft Cloud stack, Informatica announced MDM on Azure. With this announcement, customers can deploy MDM as a SaaS offering on Azure via the Azure Marketplace, which could appeal to the large number of Microsoft shops looking to enhance their Azure Data Lakes with a feature-rich MDM solution. Both companies also launched Informatica Data Governance with Power BI, which, as highlighted by Scott Guthrie, EVP of Cloud and AI at Microsoft, brings Informatica’s data catalog scanners to Power BI, allowing customers to have a single view of their data processes from ingestion to consumption. This offering could serve as a more strategic way for customers to modernize their analytics workloads through Azure.
      • Given their respective strengths in data analytics and data management, Google Cloud and Informatica are complementary partners. The Google Cloud-Informatica relationship took a major step forward with the launch of Informatica Data Loader, which could expand client usage of BigQuery and help Google Cloud (Nasdaq: GOOGL) address a wider set of customer needs, including those outside the IT department. In TBR’s own discussions with enterprise buyers, BigQuery is often cited as a leading solution due to its ability to handle petabytes of data at a favorable price point. Walia reaffirmed this notion in discussions with two customers, ADT and Telus, both of which are migrating legacy data warehouses and/or front-end ETL (extract, transform, load) capabilities into their BigQuery instances and using IDMC for cloud-based data management.
      • Oracle awards Informatica preferred partner status for data integration. Informatica and Oracle (NYSE: ORCL) struck a new partnership agreement that offers IDMC on Oracle Cloud Infrastructure (OCI). Addressing the large number of customers running legacy Oracle databases and potentially those that are also deploying on-premises Informatica products, IDMC on OCI provides customers an integrated gateway to the cloud by enabling back-end connections with Oracle Autonomous Database and Exadata Database Service and OCI Object Storage. For example, with IDMC on OCI, customers can import data from legacy Oracle E-Business Suite applications into Autonomous Database and connect to other data sources, such as Azure SQL or Amazon RedShift, through IDMC. As a preferred Oracle partner, Informatica will recommend customers use IDMC with Oracle’s cloud services. Oracle’s EVP of database server technologies, Andy Mendelsohn, walked through numerous incentives to assist customers’ cloud migrations, such as Bring Your Own License, Informatica Migration Factory and Oracle Cloud Lift Services.

Informatica also has close relationships with Amazon Web Services (AWS) (Nasdaq: AMZN), Snowflake (NYSE: SNOW) and Databricks, all of which are expanding their commitments to Informatica to help customers look beyond ETL and handle data in an end-to-end fashion. Given Informatica offers analytics, integration, automation, governance and management capabilities across leading clouds, naturally the company runs up against a high degree of competitive overlap with its partners, which offer similar native tooling as part of a customer’s environment.

However, in talks with customers, the general perception seems to be that the hyperscalers’ capabilities are still relatively immature and that there is also significant value in deploying a vendor-neutral platform like IDMC to avoid vendor lock-in and address the training and skill challenges typically associated with a multicloud environment. While we can expect the hyperscalers to enhance their capabilities, at the end of the day, the primary goal for AWS, Microsoft and Google Cloud is to win compute, so the benefits of partnering with Informatica to capture legacy platform-layer workloads outweigh the downsides of coopetition.

Conclusion

With IDMC, Informatica has fostered a value proposition catered to three core areas: platform-centricity, connecting IT and business ecosystems, and infrastructure agnosticism. The numerous announcements made at Informatica World 2022 show the data management company is building on these strategic pillars by better aligning with cutting-edge trends in the cloud industry, such as industry customization, out-of-the-box integrations and data democratization. With these enhancements in place, along with close partnerships across the IaaS ecosystem, Informatica is positioning itself favorably to assist clients with the large number of on-premises workloads ready to be migrated and modernized in the cloud while enabling the cloud-native enterprise to transition from digital to data-driven.



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Will Boomi’s strategy succeed with new management?

It is always hit or miss whether a blog post will solicit dialogue from readers. TBR’s recent blog post Who is going to want Boomi? certainly struck a chord. The blog focused on the actions of the private equity firms intending to acquire Boomi, which ultimately led Boomi to provide TBR with deeper insight into its most recent achievements, activities and aspirations as the company moves to new corporate ownership. Boomi has a sound growth strategy with a high chance of success, assuming the company and its new owners are in strategic alignment.

Evaluating the business using an inside-out/outside-in construct provides a reasonable framework for the market implications Boomi ― and really any integration PaaS (iPaaS) vendor ― will face in the years ahead. The situation starts with a universal fact: Digital businesses gain a competitive advantage against peers if they automate the flow of data across their organization. Any step where a business has to add labor when a peer does not is a cost disadvantage. In this respect, Boomi’s value is twofold: 1) automations can be built into the process and tightly integrated so that they don’t break as applications evolve, and 2) organizations can create even greater advantage when they are discovering data from all of their sources and understand the data and applications involved in the automation process.

Figure 1

Outside in: The rise of data management and asymmetric competition

Our initial blog on the sale of Boomi referenced UiPath and startups Kong and Entefy as potential asymmetric challengers to Boomi’s core value proposition. Additionally, you have the basic PaaS offerings from the exascale cloud platforms providing prebuilt connectors and myriad additional services for security, data protection and data management. SaaS players, as mentioned in our prior blog, offer prebuilt integrations to popular, adjacent applications. Numerous vendors vie for what they generally call single-pane-of-glass management in multiple forms, with all vendors stressing analytics and automation in some manner.

Just as paramount is the economywide war for talent. Qualified talent versed in new technologies and tools are sought virtually everywhere, making it an employee’s market. As is the case with any acquisition, talent retention and recruitment will be key to the innovations Boomi has charted out in its development road map. In acquisition parlance, it is called putting “the golden handcuffs” on essential personnel to ensure they do not jump to a competing firm. Locking down key engineering talent will be critical.

Situationally, iPaaS tool sets can be acquired either in best-of-breed fashion or by standardization on one platform that is expansive enough to solve an immediate need and evolve with the organization. In large enterprises, there could be a mix of tools based on those brought into the organization via acquisition. In this way, iPaaS brands can be pigeonholed for what they have been offering and not necessarily given consideration for their go-forward innovations. In turn, tool purchases are often a derived decision as part of a broader initiative. The cost is justified in terms of the time savings for the business initiative rather than how the purchase will make the life of the IT department easier.

It is for this reason Figure 1 references “Strategic Alliances; ‘White Label.’” Externally, many global systems integrators (GSIs) are pivoting to managed services offerings, especially the advisory firms with deep tax and audit credentials, whose distinction comes from the tax and audit knowledge base they can automate to address data management, governance and compliance rules.

By underpinning GSI software development with its own tools, Boomi can gain a distinct selling advantage into large enterprises as it will have these influencers and quasi sellers  at its disposal. Tighter relationships will also help Boomi keep an ear to the ground on the emerging technology vendors that GSIs and early adopter enterprises are considering and those that pose an asymmetric threat to the Boomi core.

Furthermore, Boomi made clear it does not aspire to substantially grow its consulting and services operations. GSIs will find this clear swim lane delineation refreshing considering the ways in which traditional services and software firms are beginning to encroach on one another’s core offerings.

Inside out: Transforming direct selling and creating new demand through ‘add to cart’

As a technology firm selling technology to IT departments, Boomi has sound, traditional selling motions. Increasingly, however, we hear the clarion call of selling business outcomes, and that move to consultative selling to lines of business will be necessary, given technology matters less and less while people and process matter more. In turn, studies show buyers want to self-research products and then self-provision those products from online portals.

Boomi has made steps in that regard with the availability of its AtomSphere Go edition, which aims to give customers a frictionless buying experience, at an early entry price point of $50 per month. AtomSphere Go also gives Boomi a way to disaggregate the various services in the existing offer to allow Boomi to move down market to reach late-majority enterprises. Additionally, Boomi recently announced AtomSphere Go is available on Amazon Marketplace, the mecca for seamless, add-to-cart ordering.

That type of selling, often called “land and expand,” has a very different set of operating best practices than traditional direct, or blue suit, selling. The aspiration of this kind of selling is lifetime customer value (LCV). It requires a different type of telephone support that is part technical advisory and part consultative selling for cross- and up-sell opportunities with smaller enterprises.

It is also a business model where revenue and expense do not align to the 90-day quarterly reporting cycle. This requires a leap of trust to embark on such selling approaches, as costs will far outweigh revenue until scale is achieved and the “flywheel effect” kicks in. For startup operations it is a very prominent challenge, and for Boomi the challenge will come more from setting up the operations with different motions and finding a way to balance investing in selling motions with awaiting payoff of the new add-to-cart operations.

Situation analysis: Never confuse a clear view for a short distance

TBR has laid out Boomi’s situation analysis levers as 1) talent retention and ongoing innovation to continue evolving a traditional space (iPaaS) that is being encroached upon by startups and established vendors on all sides, 2) heightened partner selling, and 3) a challenging shift to the add-to-cart selling model primarily to move down market, which requires fiscal patience. Provided there’s a vision match with the new owners, Boomi has solid platform depth and breadth with a reasonable innovation road map to survive and thrive in this ever-accelerating business pivot where automating data management, seamlessly moving data and empowering the right users to engage with data are paramount to maintain a persistent competitive advantage no matter the standard industrial classification (SIC) code.

So, what do you think? Will Boomi’s strategy succeed with new management?

In TBR’s newest blog series, What Do You Think?, we’re sharing questions our subject-matter experts have been asking each other lately, as well as posing the question to our readers. If you’d like to discuss this edition’s topic further, contact Geoff Woollacott at [email protected].

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.

Who is going to want Boomi?

In TBR’s newest blog series, What Do You Think?, we’re sharing questions our subject-matter experts have been asking each other lately, as well as posing the question to our readers. If you’d like to discuss this edition’s topic further, contact Geoff Woollacott at [email protected].

What Happened

Boomi will be sold to Francisco Partners and TPG for $4 billion in yet another in a series of asset sales, spinoffs and engineering measures Dell EMC has been making to cover the debt load from Dell’s acquisition of EMC in 2016. But this is not about Dell and the efficacy of its strategic actions. This is about Boomi. Who is going to want Boomi?

It is a broad question in terms of customers and potential buyers. Ultimately, the acquiring equity firms that shelled out $4 billion for the assets will want to “optimize” Boomi to resell the operation in whole or in part for more than $4 billion after having added their “value.” Rarely are these equity firms eager to sink money into long-overdue R&D to align an aging portfolio to the current market situation. If they were home flippers, they would want to put a fresh coat of paint on the clapboards for a five-year fix, not strip the bottom four rows of siding, replace the sill damage, reside it and paint it for a 15-year fix.

Customer Situation

Boomi lags with API tool sets in an era often called the API economy. Even those with sound API management capabilities such as MuleSoft are now being called into question for not having API automation for push-button development capabilities. There are a lot of emerging companies, such as Entefy and Kong, getting serious evaluation in early adopter enterprises as the next leap forward in the iPaaS tool set space while UiPath receives mention in TBR’s discussions with customers as having the capabilities to swing into this space as well.

Boomi’s sweet spot seems to be the late majority large and midsize enterprises, with most of these customer applications residing on premises and many of them bespoke or highly customized. These data transport vessels are like the African Queen steamboat chugging along in the data river.  These data center leaders will not find out-of-the-box API integrations into their bespoke applications from the leading SaaS apps they may be adopting at the start of their slow roll to native-cloud applications and data center consolidations that are a threat to Boomi as well as the traditional hardware manufacturers such as Dell, Hewlett Packard Enterprise and Lenovo.

Those are the customers that will likely want Boomi, but the number of potential buyers will rapidly dwindle as the market trends that threaten that sweet spot support the continued acceleration of cloud migration, sparked by the pandemic. Specifically, Salesforce’s 2018 acquisition of MuleSoft provided the SaaS front-office leader with an integration layer to tie together its proprietary solutions, in addition to integrations with AppExchange, its app partner ecosystem. While MuleSoft was born in legacy IT, its combination with Salesforce provides MuleSoft with substantial capital to innovate and evolve its offerings for better alignment with Salesforce by enhancing its tool sets for cloud application integration. Boomi’s challenge is to take these core strengths for business-to-business/EDI management and easy self-service reporting and integrations and build out the API and AI/machine learning capabilities sooner rather than later.

Buyer situation

In terms of who may want Boomi in their portfolio, the current owners likely eye Salesforce’s $6.5 billion acquisition of MuleSoft as the kind of pinata they hope to crack open with this $4 billion swing at a payoff. To TBR, that is likely a swing and a miss due to the aging portfolio issues referenced. Yes, SaaS players will increasingly bake in iPaaS tool sets, but emerging SaaS players will be less inclined to worry about on-premises and bespoke integrations where Boomi excels as they will be to have out-of-the-box connectors to market-share-leading SaaS apps in other segments.

This leaves buyers looking to consolidate aging assets to profitably manage opportunity in declining markets. A sound firm such as Informatica can follow the acquisition strategy deployed to great success by Computer Associates (CA) in the late ’80s and the ’90s as minicomputer consolidation started. In essence, CA became a software distributor of disparate, stand-alone utilities and tools for the various proprietary install bases that started their slow decline into irrelevance as Intel/Microsoft ate the data center. The CA acquisitions in that era were often asset sales, however. Ultimately, that consolidation caught up to both CA and BMC. While they are in operation, they likely lack the cash flow to justify adding Boomi to their boneyard — unless, of course, the equity partners decide to cut their losses if the financial pinata fails to crack open.

So, what do you think? Who is going to want Boomi?

Informatica empowers business users and improves customer success in its Winter ’20 release

The new capabilities of Informatica’s winter release make data more consumable for business users

Organizations have a bevy of data spanning their on-premises and cloud environments and a growing number of employees utilizing that data — from more technical personnel, such as data scientists who are using the data to create AI and machine learning models, to data analysts and business users who are leveraging data for analytics. Simultaneously, government regulations around data privacy, such as the General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) in the European Union, are becoming more stringent across geographies, requiring enterprises have visibility into and control over all their data.

Informatica, through its iPaaS portfolio, can enable enterprises to derive greater value from their data sets and meet these tightening regulations with governance tools. Informatica further defined its value proposition at its Winter 2020 virtual launch event in December, announcing numerous product enhancements and capabilities, including improvements to its data governance and customer success solutions that help analysts and nontechnical business users leverage their company’s data.

As data regulations tighten, Informatica maintains governance while simplifying data requisition

Informatica’s recent updates around data governance and privacy include two key areas of the process: helping customers understand the quality of their data and streamlining their data processing pipeline. The vendor is using natural language processing to automatically generate a data quality maplet based on the functional specifications outlined by a customer’s data steward. This capability significantly reduces time to value for data sets, as data stewards typically have to collaborate with subject matter experts to create a maplet, a process that could take weeks before data can be fully utilized.

To empower business users and analysts once the data is available for analytics and reporting, Informatica created the Informatica Data Marketplace, a feature in the vendor’s Axon Data Governance offering. The marketplace is akin to consumer-oriented online shopping experiences, as business users and analysts can search data by category, subcategory and other filters. Once an employee requests a data set, it alerts the relevant data steward regarding which data set the employee would like and the intended use of the asset. Enabling data stewards to accept or deny access to these requests ensures that governance policies are still being met while democratizing data by giving data consumers more autonomy. TBR expects this will be a noteworthy selling point for Informatica as it engages with modernizing enterprises that are faced with complexities in their data governance growing alongside the number of employees consuming data.

Informatica’s enhanced Customer Success Platform helps customers from onboarding to ongoing

Business-to-business technology providers that will succeed in the 2020s understand customer success is a strategic imperative. Gone are the days of binary, transaction-oriented customer relationships with communication blackouts between product sale and renewal. Informatica understands this shift in business buying behavior, highlighted by new Customer Success Platform capabilities including the DIANA intelligent agent for license and administrative support, personalized recommendations for employee onboarding and training, product learning paths with novice to expert-level training on Informatica products, and support from Informatica experts through Concierge.

Informatica is ensuring organizations are attaining the greatest value from its offerings by scaling customers’ workforces with on-demand training, and once trained, enabling the workforce to solve issues on an ongoing basis via DIANA and Informatica experts. TBR believes these capabilities will make Informatica stickier in customers’ organizations, further increasing renewal rates throughout its customer base.

Informatica has positioned itself for success as enterprises demand more personalized engagement

In an era where customers are adopting best-of-breed offerings from multiple vendors, enterprises need a third-party integration provider that can unify their entire IT environment. Informatica will remain a leading vendor in this regard, as its ongoing innovation will continue to appeal to technical personnel such as data engineers and data scientists, while becoming more attractive to business decision makers with new capabilities at the business user level. Furthermore, Informatica’s investment in customer success will help attract and retain customers as enterprises expect, and demand, more personal vendor engagement.

Informatica touts AI benefits with a caveat: Data cleanliness and management are critical

To be widely effective, AI needs clean data and cloud scale

Informatica World 2019’s focus was on customers of all backgrounds and sizes leveraging AI to accelerate digital transformation. While AI is not a new or novel discipline, cloud computing has supported its growing accessibility by enabling scalable, cost-effective data processing. In that spirit, Informatica has forged partnerships with the three most prominent public cloud brands, Amazon Web Services (AWS; Nasdaq: AMZN), Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT) and Google Cloud (Nasdaq: GOOGL), and put these three Platinum partners on stage throughout the event’s keynotes and breakout sessions.

Google Cloud

Google Cloud was represented on the keynote stage by new CEO Thomas Kurian, who harped on both data processing at scale and the idea of ensuring you’re informing AI and analytics with clean and comprehensive data sets. Informatica and Google jointly announced that as of the conference, Informatica’s Intelligent Cloud Services (IICS) and Master Data Management (MDM) solution were available on Google Cloud, better enabling customers to move their data warehouses to Google Cloud Platform, leverage Informatica’s products in the environment, and run analytics through BigQuery and Google’s AI capabilities.

AWS

Ariel Kelman, VP of Worldwide Marketing at AWS, joined Informatica CEO Anil Chakravarthy on stage to describe how AWS is innovating and enabling customers with AI, but more importantly to explain the relationship between Informatica and AWS in supporting their joint customers. Kelman admitted that “a lot of [AWS’] services need data and a lot of that data is still on premises.” Though AWS is bringing its services into customers’ environments through AWS Outposts, customers also want help bringing their data to the cloud. In addition to supporting integration between Informatica products such as Power Center and IICS with Amazon Redshift, the partners announced a joint offering with Cognizant (Nasdaq: CTSH) that enables customers to complete a free, self-service data migration assessment. The assessment service leverages Informatica Enterprise Data Catalog on AWS and Cognizant’s data-to-cloud migration assessment and strategy services to help customers begin planning and mapping their data migrations to cloud. The service is intended to accelerate customers’ data migrations to AWS infrastructure while ensuring enlistment of Informatica data management products and Cognizant consulting and systems integration services in the process.

Microsoft

While Microsoft and Informatica did not make a formal announcement on stage, Microsoft had a large presence in the final keynote of Informatica World and in breakout sessions, highlighting how Microsoft approaches AI innovation and use cases across various industries and customer roles. At the outset of the event, Informatica announced its support of the Microsoft Common Data Model (CDM), data frameworks meant to ultimately reduce data silos across workloads and applications through data model standardization on Microsoft Azure. Informatica’s support of the Microsoft CDM, which is a key aspect of the widely discussed Open Data Initiative between Microsoft, Adobe (Nasdaq: ADBE) and SAP (NYSE: SAP), enables customers to utilize Informatica’s portfolio of products and solutions to manage data across applications and enable analytics and business intelligence efforts across the data landscape. TBR believes there’s a clear opportunity for Informatica to similarly extend its Customer 360 and Customer 360 Intelligence solutions into the Open Data Initiative alliance, particularly to bring greater light to the capabilities brought with Informatica’s recent acquisition of AllSight, a storyline that was overshadowed at the event despite its deliberate inclusion in the narrative.

Informatica adds intelligence to data management but faces unusual competition as traditional roles blur

The Customer Data Management landscape

Informatica continues to thrive in its position as an agnostic third-party data management vendor that supports enterprises’ applications and data initiative. This approach has served Informatica well, as tailored solutions such as Customer 360 have complemented and supported leading front-office applications like Salesforce with customer data management. As front-office application vendors innovate to challenge Salesforce for market share, many are building customer data platforms that enhance the information feeding these applications and build a case for full-suite sales across front-office touch points. Among this competition, there is also a driving need to build greater insight and intelligence into customer data. Informatica’s acquisition of AllSight greatly strengthens the intelligence it can deliver around its clients’ customer data, but applications-led vendors will increasingly challenge Informatica in the customer data management space as they look to build out their value propositions.

Unifying and adding intelligence around customer data is a ubiquitous priority

Vendors across the cloud-based and traditional software landscapes want to elevate the value they provide customers and increase their addressable market by prioritizing unified and intelligent data to power enterprises. Data efforts are following the same workloads trends as cloud applications, focusing on CRM first before HCM and ERP to build traction in the market.

Applications-led vendors such as Salesforce, Oracle, SAP and Adobe are leveraging the data their individual sales, marketing, customer support and commerce applications generate and consume. This allows vendors to craft partnerships, new solutions and data model transformations to unify and enrich the data across all discrete application areas. The message shapes up to enable an enterprise to equip all front-office functions with a single and complete depiction of each customer or prospect that tracks and contextualizes actions at every point of the customer life cycle. In the last nine months we’ve seen numerous developments along these lines, including:

  • SAP announced the unification of its customer experience applications into a single suite, C/4HANA, with plans for deep integrations and layers of intelligence.
  • Adobe, Microsoft and SAP announced their alliance under the Open Data Initiative to give joint clients a more comprehensive view of their customers by enriching data across each vendor’s front-office applications.
  • Salesforce announced Customer 360 to update records across its systems with new information via a unique customer identifier.
  • Oracle announced CX Unity as a data platform that unifies data across Oracle and partner front-office applications to provide a comprehensive view of engagement points and additional data intelligence.
  • Salesforce announced intentions to offer a customer data platform to store a unified profile of customers.
  • Adobe announced a customer data platform.
  • Adobe and Microsoft expanded their relationship, launching new tools and leveraging data from LinkedIn to provide purchasing insights for B2B sales and marketing.
Customer 360 solutions graphic by Informatica
SOURCE: INFORMATICA

Informatica positions its portfolio to power customers’ intelligent disruption

Celebrating 25 years in business, Informatica hosted 2,800 attendees at Informatica World 2018 in Las Vegas. While customers and Informatica fondly reminisced about how far the Informatica portfolio had brought each of them, there was also a focus on what opportunities exist for the next 25 years. In that spirit, Informatica’s event theme implored customers to “Disrupt. Intelligently.”