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Over the last four years Domo, a new brand in cloud-based data and analytics software, has worked to enable its customers to understand, collaborate and act on data to achieve business results. Led by its founder and CEO, Josh James, the company has worked to deliver software that provides both a good user experience and business value. Recently, at its 2015 customer conference Domopalooza, the company presented itself and its products to the general public. I had a chance to meet with company executives, employees and customers and view its products at this high-energy event and entertainment that I have not seen in years.
I believe that the key to what Domo has done is its having designed into its offerings how people need to work with data to effectively support decision-making, enable actions and stay informed on the state of the business. Domo takes a different approach than vendors that focus on visual discovery for analysts or try to create the perfect dashboard. Its simpler approach aligns to how people actually work in business. This is a major reason the company received Ventana Research Overall Business Technology Innovation Award for 2015.
We see five areas where the Domo product stands out from others and has attracted its substantial customer following. Here is a look at each of them.
First, its design reflects an understanding that business people do not have countless hours to navigate through charts looking for information. Instead Domo notifies them of critical changes throughAlerts – a feature that is missing in most other analytics tools that are mostly aimed at analysts. The notifications and alerts can be sent as SMS or email and through the mobile devices that many business people now rely on.
Second is a collaborative feature I really like called DomoBuzz. It provides contextual discussions and enables interactions with others in the same view as the analytics. This is much better than the many minimal approaches to collaboration through email and discussions outside of the context of the actual data. DomoBuzz enables people to have open or closed discussions about what is happening with the data, do root-cause analysis or examine new opportunities. Collaboration within analytics applications has long been a priority for business, but vendors designing products for IT use ignored it. Here again, Domo ensures that this capability works across the Web and mobile devices.
Third, Card Builder enables rapid assembly of information in an easy-to-understand tile that is a visual rectangle used to contain information that is presented and is interactive and collaborative. It automatically interprets data the user selects and suggests the proper visualization and presentation. These “cards” can be assembled into pages and slide shows and can be gone through by gestures on mobile devices. I think these cards could easily be expanded into a summary paragraph that anyone can read to get a high-level view of the business.
Fourth, Domo extends analytics through Tasks, which enables users to create projects, add participants and set checklists that track progress and results. Domo is the only provider I know of that has embedded the ability to assign, track and complete any range of tasks and projects within the analytics environment. And let’s be honest: Analytics generates so many potential actions and tasks that we must create lists of items to follow up on, and these usually are done in email or a document and easily set aside.
Fifth is Profiles, which provides information on Domo users that is essential for effective collaboration and assigning roles and responsibilities. It also provides the means to contact them and even connect with them on social media. This enhances personalization and enables dialogue to interact and improve, and is an excellent complement to DomoBuzz.
To utilize Domo requires gathering data from any necessary application, system or source, and the company has invested to ensure that data access is not a barrier.
Domo Magic shortens the time from data to insight and action by enabling users to transform the data. Our data and analytics in the cloud benchmark research finds that the most common impediment to efficiency in using analytics is the time spent on data-related tasks like preparing data (cited by 55%) and reviewing data for quality and consistency issues (48%). Domo Magic allows business professionals to click on and connect to data sources and extract data without IT involvement. It takes a visual approach to data mashups and what we call data preparation that blends the selection, merging and flow of data in ways much easier to use than standard ETL or data integration.
It’s simple to connect to specific data sources through a variety of connectors that can mash up data from many application sources, social media and Internet information sources, which our research reveals as the top three most important external data sources, each cited by more than 40 percent of organizations. Domo also easily connects to IT integration tools such as those from Informatica, which I saw demonstrated, and other enterprise data sources from its cloud-based environment.
To help new users get started, Domo supplies a range of QuickStart Apps that facilitate connecting to data sources and role- and industry-based applications. All of these apps are available on the Web and mobile devices so there is little or no load on IT to support Domo.
At Domopalooza the company showcased customers that have found the Domo approach easy to use. We heard testimony from SAB Miller, Schneider Electric, Stance and dozens of others. Our firm was so impressed that we selected SAB Miller (led by Ross Moncur, group head of business analytics) for the 2015 Ventana Research Leadership Award in Business Analytics. The overview video provides a glimpse of the dynamics of what SAB Miller has done with Domo and how it is using analytics to business advantage. It harnessed a significant number of data sources into a single application to guide and execute on business performance.
Domo has created a new generation of software to help organizations manage their business to optimal performance using analytics, collaboration, personalization, presentation and project and task management, all in an application that helps people optimize their processes and improve their actions and decisions. It is not a typical analytics or visualization product but cloud-based software that accelerates the time to gain insights from data, take action and achieve desired outcomes in a new way. Timing in the market for software is always essential for success, and in this case Domo has arrived during a transformation in how businesses will use information and technology to manage and optimize their efforts. They are looking for more than dashboards and pretty visualization but at the same time want software that any of their employees can use, not just analysts or data scientists. If you have not taken a look at Domo, now is a good time to do so.
CEO and Chief Research Officer
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, which 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 integration 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 Ventana 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 meet 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 determine 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.
CEO and Chief Research Officer