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This has been a dramatic year for Informatica, a major provider of data integration software. In August it was acquired and taken private by Permira funds and Canada Pension Plan Investment Board for about US$5.3 billion. This change was accompanied by shifts in its management. CEO Sohaib Abbasi became chairman and now has left, and many executives were replaced while Anil Chakravathy became CEO from being the Chief Product Officer. The new owners appear to have shifted the company’s strategic priorities to emphasize profitability with reduced headcount and return on the purchase investment. Despite these changes, during the past six months Informatica has made key product announcements that will impact its future and the future of data management.

First, Informatica sharpened its focus on master data management (MDM) through a set of new applications announced in September of this year []. Along with version 10.1 of the Informatica MDM platform, it announced Customer 360, Supplier 360 and Cloud Customer 360 for Salesforce, which join the already available Product 360. The “360” moniker indicates its positioning that the applications can collect data from any interaction or system and thus provide a 360-degree view to support these applications. I hope this focus will guide its advances in integration and processing of data within the lines of business. Some of these areas are complicated; for example, Customer requires getting interaction data from contact center systems such as those of Genesys, NICE Systems, Verint and others. Previously this has not been a priority of Informatica, but it is required to get a true 360-degree view of customers. This is confirmed in our next-generation customer engagement benchmark research, vr_NGCE_15_supporting_multiple_channels.pngwhich finds that organizations support as many as 17 channels of interaction and that the most often reported issue in supporting multiple channels is difficulty in integrating systems.

Release dates vary for these new 360 applications, as do their capabilities to support mastering and integration of data. Product 360 is available now, and it earned Informatica a Hot Vendor in our 2015 Value Index on Product Information Management. It has advanced support for integration through templates that work with e-commerce products including Demandware, IBM WebSphere Commerce and Oracle ATG and can monitor data for competitive product and pricing changes. In 2014 we selected Informatica customer Geiger as the Leadership Award Winner in Overall Information Technology. At this point, however, with the expanding set of MDM applications and altered priorities after the acquisition, we cannot know to what extent Informatica will maintain its investment in and development priorities for Product 360; this will be worth watching as a gauge of the company’s focus going forward.

In another area Informatica recently announced new capabilities in its support for cloud computing. It appears to be focused on supporting its partner salesforce.com, and particularly the need for lines of business to interchange data in and out of its environments, integration with Salesforce Wave Analytics and the new Salesforce IoT Cloud for the Internet of Things. Informatica as well has advanced its ability to ensure data privacy through Informatica Cloud Test Data Management.

In recent public conversations with me at Informatica World, top company executives showed a lack of support and knowledge of the ecosystems of business applications in the cloud from major providers including Infor, Oracle, SAP and others that have experienced significant growth in customers adopting and deploying their applications.  Though two of these three top level Informatica executives are no longer with the company. It seems to be placing a strategic bet on aligning mostly with salesforce.com; here again only time will tell how well these narrow objectives compare to those of companies that have a more diverse approach to business applications in the cloud. On the other hand, Informatica has released more prebuilt connectors for cloud systems, mostly focused on marketing such as from Eloqua, MailChimp and Salesforce Marketing Cloud (formerly ExactTarget).

Informatica has progressed in integration with analytics tools as already pointed out with Salesforce Wave Analytics; it also demonstrated integration with Domo’s business data integration product at Informatica World. Our analysis is that in each of the lines of business Informatica has greater potential if it focuses on business use of cloud-based applications. Our data and analytics in the cloud research finds that the top external data source priority in three out of five (61%) organizations is business applications.

Informatica’s most important recent announcement is the release of Informatica v10, which is the foundation of its products not just for data integration but for data management overall. With this new version, the packaging options have shifted to a choice of Premium, Advanced and Standard editions to suit the needs and budgets of organizations. The highest level, Premium, includes data validation, monitoring and sophisticated data transformation; the midrange Advanced edition has increased capabilities in scaling, metadata and glossary as well as a real-time option. V10 of Data Quality has advanced profiling with visualizations, workflow and voting for feedback, and has improved its rules, monitoring and matching capabilities along with better administration through partitioning, versioning and parameterization. All of these are essential for enterprise-class processing of data quality processes. V10 of Data Integration Hub supports publish and subscribe interactions, management for cloud and on-premises systems, secure FTP and Hadoop for storage and indexing.

On yet another front Informatica has advanced its big data management technologies, taking a comprehensive approach that is more than big data integration and supports data quality and governance and also security of data in Hadoop deployments. Our research in 2014 on big data integrationvr_BDI_03_plans_for_big_data_technology identified issues in these areas that create difficulty and increase costs in using Hadoop, which our research found is at the top of the list for plans in adopting big data technology.  Informatica’s new release supports dynamic mapping and smarter execution of jobs in Hadoop environments and adds Live Data Map, a metadata catalog for data assets. In addition Informatica has created Blaze, a big data environment that runs in-memory and utilizes YARN and Apache Spark to optimize computation and processing of data. The most valuable element I believe is that design and development can be done in one computing environment but deployment can be done in a range of execution systems including Hadoop. Flexibility in a distributed data architecture is critical for any enterprise deployment that spans on-premises and cloud environments.

I see significant potential in Informatica Secure@Source, which addresses data security. Informatica has been advancing security across its products from monitoring to masking, but its focus on data security with this product has real promise. It earned a VR2015_InnovationAwardWinnerVentana Research Technology Innovation Award for Overall Information Technology in 2015. This product aims to ensure appropriate levels of discovery in data assets through notifications, analytics and visualization – capabilities in which IT management should invest. Hopefully Informatica will continue to invest in data security as its initial improvements appear to be heading in the right direction.

I have been involved in the database industry for three decades, from being a database architect to helping launch the data warehouse and OLAP markets and now analyzing the market for 15 years, and I am impressed by Informatica’s efforts to help IT organizations manage diverse database portfolios. Informatica finally has moved beyond integration alone to management, which is a simple-seeming but critical shift to take advantage of what its product portfolio actually does and provide what its customers expect. Informatica continues to expand the range of data management challenges it addresses for IT and now lines of business. In data preparation its Informatica Rev product has promise but will need better marketing and sales to analysts and operations teams which so far are adopting this type of product from other providers.

Looking to the near future, Informatica has an opportunity to position itself and further unify its products for supporting IoT, which includes streams and processing of events for a wide range of operational and analytical needs. It has demonstrated how it can process log data and parse data for Amazon technologies and has depth in its near-real-time, zero-latency Ultra Messaging products. Expanding into this set of data processing requirements is natural for Informatica with its range of processing and management tools.

Technologically Informatica is poised to meetvr_DAC_08_types_of_data_integration_processes the diversity of data integration process needs that operate across on-premises and cloud computing in just about any configuration today. Our data and analytics in the cloud research identifies the growth in exchange of data between cloud systems and with on-premises ones, which more than half of organizations said they will increase into 2017. Stepping up its commitment to data management is a subtle but critical shift for Informatica. While it will be under more management scrutiny on its priorities and its contribution to financial growth to meet its new owners’ expectations, those owners will need to realize that investment is still required not just to innovate but also to help its customers succeed while hopefully exceeding expected profit margins.

I expect people coming into and leaving the organization throughout 2016 as employees determineVR2015_LeadershipAwardWinner whether the new Informatica is right for them. But Informatica has a vocal set of customers that appreciate its technology; as a case in point, we selected its customer CIT Group and BJ Fesq our 2015 Overall Information Technology Leader Award. Its move to a subscription pricing model for its on-premises software from the past license and maintenance approach should bind customers to it more tightly for them to be able to readily gain access to the latest capabilities; this is a wise step that is occurring widely across the software industry. As organizations consider how best to manage and use data assets located in any application or system, Informatica remains a vendor to have on the short list of those that can fit the organization’s needs for managing and processing data assets.

Regards,

Mark Smith

CEO and Chief Research Officer

Ventana Research defines a human resources management system (HRMS) as the set of applications and associated processes that store and manage the employee information used by an organization’s human resources department. New technologies make it possible for the HRMS to perform better and be easier to use by HR professionals and members of the workforce. The range of evolving technologies impacting the development of the HRMS includeVR_HRMS_BenchmarkResearch business analytics, big data, cloud computing, mobile technology, business collaboration, social media and wearable computing. These advances enable organizations to streamline the processes that the HRMS supports and more efficiently take advantage of competencies that already exist in the workforce. The changes are so substantive for organizations and their HR departments that we have undertaken new research called Next-Generation Human Resources Management Systems.

As well as becoming more efficient in their HR processes, employers want to ensure that their employees can interact easily with HR managers and feel satisfied with these relations. This is facilitated by using new methods such as collaboration through mobile devices. In addition companies today have to manage greater amounts of information than ever before related to benefits and policies and be able to provide specific, relevant information directly to employees at any time. Employers also have to comply with a range of employment rules and required benefits such as the Affordable Care Act for healthcare in the United States. In this context of information overload the HRMS should be able to use big data technologies to become a strategic tool that helps both HR and employees have complete and relevant information about employment.

The basic use of the HRMS is to hold essential information about an organization’s employees. Until recently HRMSs were stand-alone systems that maintained seldom-changing information and were used by only a few people in the HR department. The HRMS, and indeed the HR function in general, was seen as dedicated to keeping records, providing input for payroll, overseeing related compliance processes and managing benefits including healthcare, time off and others not related to compensation. Employees and managers had limited access to self-service capabilities, not to mention ready availability of it on a variety of devices.

This perception has begun to change in recent years. Other types of applications, such as talent management and workforce management, have been introduced into human resources processes, and HRMSs often must share information with them. Such systems potentially expand the kinds of information available to managers and those who work for them. In addition, innovative technologies including richer analytics have expanded the ways this wealth of information can be used and the array of roles – line-of-business managers, executives and even individual employees – that can benefit from using it. Business analytics can highlight the types and quality of talent a company possesses – and needs. Ubiquitous access to HR information through smartphones and tablets improves the reach and speed with which employees and managers access information and promotes sharing, communication and understanding. Embedded social collaboration tools connect employees more effectively and impact metrics such as employee engagement and time to productivity.

Thus the HRMS can play a strategic role in human capital management. HR professionals now can have applications and tools that support a range of workforce processes and also help the rest of the organization with their employment and business needs. A modern HRMS also can help engage and retain talent through advanced and more efficient HR practices. This new market research will explore both the evolution of human resources management systems and the roles of new technologies that being added to them. It will evaluate how organizations are integrating their HRMSs with new technologies and their impact on improving HR processes and increasing the value of HR to the organization.

Such changes in HRMSs and other human capital management systems are facilitating an evolution of HR processes. Key focus points of this research will be to examine the changing role of the HRMS in organizations, how new technologies such as business collaboration are being integrated into the HRMS and related applications HR personnel use, how VentanaResearchBenchmark_PayrollManagementthe applications are accessed through mobile devices and finally the perceived value these new technologies add to core HR applications such as the HRMS. The research will detail the specific ways in which the HRMS is evolving from a system that stores basic employee information to one that integrates benefits and payroll along with integration to talent management and workforce management information and applications to provide more useful information for HR and business leaders. Our latest benchmark research on payroll management already shows that more than half (53%) of organizations see employee self-service as important for accessing an individual’s payroll information. The new research will track as well the changing needs of HR for information related to benefits and pay and to compliance with regulations and policies.

The goal of this Next-Generation Human Resources Management benchmark research is to examine how organizations are evolving in using an HRMS and determine the drivers for and benefits of adapting a new technological approach. It will build upon recent benchmark research findings that show that talent management and workforce management systems are critical for organizations as adapt to a new generation of technologies for their workers and employees. This research also will seek to understand how the next-generation technologies listed above are changing the way organizations operate in human capital management processes and to identify the best practices used by innovative companies. It will examine whether and how organizations are choosing to embrace these new technologies in their HR functions. It also will assess how adopting an advanced approach to using an HRMS impacts an organization’s  people, processes, information and technology requirements as well as its productivity.

Come engage in our research and in return receive best practices and insights that can help your organization. Participate.

Regards,

Mark Smith

CEO & Chief Research Officer

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