Meet the New Informatica, Same as the Old Informatica (Thankfully)

B. Shimmin

B. Shimmin

Summary Bullets:

  • Now a private company, Informatica marked a significant change of direction at its annual user conference with the introduction of an end-to-end marketing analytics solution aimed squarely at business buyers.
  • Have the big data market and Informatica itself moved beyond the era of databases and data discovery to embrace pure business outcomes built upon data-driven insights? The answer is of course both ‘no’ and ‘yes,’ in that order.

It seems lately that the entire technology industry has gone insane… but in a good way, of course.  Case in point: Informatica.  At its annual user conference in San Francisco last week, the decades-old data management software purveyor announced that it was suddenly and completely enamored with business outcomes.  This is in no way unexpected or even unusual, as many, many technology providers are feverishly following the money.

Thanks to the cloud and to the technologies that make the cloud hum, namely server/network orchestration and virtualization, enterprise dollars are moving away from IT and toward the lines of business, where speed and ROI rules.  Innovate big, fail fast, etc.  For that reason, best-of-breed technology vendors like Cisco, Avaya, EMC, IBM, and now Informatica are increasingly moving to the cloud, adopting open architectures (think: containerization), and building productized line-of-business solutions that are immediately consumable and rapidly justified.  Forget pushing boxes.  Let’s push solutions!

This is what Informatica’s new Marketing Data Lake solution is all about.  And it is only the first of many.  Because this solution is built on the company’s horizontal Intelligent Data Lake platform, Informatica will be able to quickly add further use-case solutions.  Under consideration are healthcare, risk management, and customer service, areas where Informatica already has some experience.  Why do this?  Surely, a company like Informatica, which has just gone private, is better off sticking to its guns instead of tackling a deliverable that will require a significant reinvention of its sales, implementation (read: professional services), and support channels.  That sounds crazy, or at least risky given the professional services organizations put forward by SIs like Deloitte and Accenture or technology providers like IBM and Oracle.

But, that’s just it.  Informatica Marketing Data Lake doesn’t represent a move away from what Informatica does best as a best-of-breed data integration and management vendor.  It drives home the extreme importance of a holistic platform of supportive horizontal technologies that taken together can serve more than one master, or use case, as it were.  In other words, you need an extensible, cloud-savvy platform that draws together best-of-breed capabilities spanning data integration, data quality, data security.  The list goes on.

So, in a way, Informatica is not really pushing business outcomes as much as it’s proving the efficacy of its underlying platform, which just happens to be branded the Informatica Intelligent Data Platform.  You can hear this philosophy echoed in the words of Informatica CEO Anil Chakravarthy, who said during his keynote (I’m paraphrasing of course) that what we need isn’t a faster database or a smarter data visualization tool, but rather a holistic solution that brings together architecture, offering, and outcome.  That sounds wise… and familiar.  Data and analytics powerhouse SAS has been successfully trading on that platform-based holistic worldview for some time now.  It may come as no surprise, then, to learn that Informatica recently persuaded former SAS CMO Jim Davis to join its ranks.  Mr. Davis understands not just how to market analytics, but how to market the business case for analytics and by extension the value of a solid underlying data platform, a ‘Switzerland of Data Management,’ if you like.

About Brad Shimmin
As Principal Analyst for Collaboration and Conferencing at Current Analysis, Brad analyzes the rapidly expanding use of collaboration software and services as a means of improving business agility, fostering employee optimization and driving business opportunities.

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