I’m not a great reader of business books. But the enduring parable of the mice that find that their cheese has moved is a powerful reminder that change happens. However, there’s one sector that has seemed immune to change for the last fifteen years or so - the data management/data quality space.
Since the advent of ETL, profiling and SOA-based technologies, the sector has remained dominated by a handful of big players providing enterprise-level solutions largely to enterprise-level customers and at enterprise-level prices. Barriers to entry remain high and there seems to be precious little “trickledown” from enterprise-level innovation into the SME space.
I wonder, though, whether there isn’t a wind of change beginning to blow through the data management landscape. I’m not suggesting that the enterprise data management market is about to disappear overnight. But I do think that the traditional players would be wise to assume that things are changing rapidly - and here’s why.
The search for cost reduction, yet innovation within the SME space - and to some extent the public sector - is seeing a steady drift towards acceptance of SaaS/subscription-based licensing as the norm. Cloud is no longer something to be concerned about, but embraced as core to the new world order.
A groundswell is taking place, driven by our own personal experience of cloud services such as Dropbox, Google, iCloud and tablet computing/smart devices. It’s computing for all, everywhere with anything. Always on, always connected and BYOD are the key technology change enablers.
Changing customer attitudes to risk and reward in the tech sector - customer takes all the risk and supplier walks away with large upfront payments - no longer flies. That means software/platform-as-a-service as standard with cloud ready a given.
Attitudes to data itself are changing, be it personal or business data. There is a generational shift taking place regarding personal data. Those born in the digital age - aka “digital natives” - are more aware of the uses of their personal data and, at the same time, less concerned about its use than “digital migrants” like myself.
They expect their data and data about the services they choose to be accurate and available to them anytime, anywhere, on any device and this is driving a transparency of data that can only create further opportunity for the data management industry.
Will we see a future where individuals and other owners of master data take responsibility for their personal/master data in the cloud and make it available for consumption? Integration via cloud services of that master data at the point of interaction - be it an address standard or a classification of disease or materials or whatever. In the future, is it possible that individuals could own and administrate their data in the cloud and licence it for use by their chosen partners/corporate entities?
I suspect a split will arise in the near term between enterprise and SME approaches to data management. In the medium term, enterprise will convert wholesale to the new world when convinced over privacy/security concerns. Longer term, we should see master data management moving to collaborative cloud-based solutions (effectively data-as-a-service).
Best placed will be those suppliers who own data content with a subscription-based model who are prepared to discuss and share risk. The brave among them will expect to share in the rewards - who will set up the first membership-based “consumer data exchange” to drive deals with the major retailers on behalf of their members in exchange for master data access perhaps?
New cheese? Probably.