A couple weeks ago the BI and MDM communities were buzzing with the news that Sourcemedia had cancelled its MDM Summit in San Francisco. Hadn't anyone signed up? Was interest in MDM waning? Now TDWI and its partner CrossTech have decided to postpone their Master Data Insight conference in Savannah. Last year the conference was sold-out, with a waiting list. What gives?
It's no news that money's tight right now. Airplanes are half-empty and LinkedIn invitations flood inboxes as people re-engage their networks. They're not traveling to conferences as much as they did last year. But could this be a reflection on MDM itself?
It's true that MDM is still in the "early adopter" phase, and that famous curve hasn't arched upward with the velocity of other hot IT trends. In our client work we're still doing a lot of MDM planning and executive level-setting. We find that the reason for slower, more deliberate MDM adoption is that people are still grappling with their own data integration paradigms. "We have CRM/a data warehouse/an ETL tool," they say. "Aren't we already doing MDM?"
The answer is, probably not. But the flashiest hierarchy management demo or high match-rate proof of concept can't convince an IT executive with entrenched paradigms that his company's systems aren't already sharing data effectively. The education process is simply longer and more deliberate with MDM. As I had planned on saying in my MDM Insight keynote, "This isn't your father's relational database." (Insert raucous laughter here.)
Actually the conference cancellations belie MDM's upward swing. Signups for MDM Insight were at-capacity. TDWI and its partner politely turned away last year's attendees, ready to welcome a whole new group of business and IT professionals poised to spend two days learning about MDM successes. But vendor sponsors--the lifeblood of most conferences--weren't where they were last year. The irony of vendors hunkering down while interest in MDM increases is a familiar one in this economy, but it shouldn't be a surprise. According to Sagecircle, Gartner canceled 18 conferences this year, and vendors and event companies alike are paring back their live events.
In hunkering down, the companies themselves are returning to the issues of their operational systems. This bodes well for MDM because in enhancing their operational systems, they'll still have data integration challenges. They'll still need to face the fact that each operational system has its own copy of the data. The survivor of the economic bust of the late 1990s was the ERP system. Every tough economic time challenges the paradigm of custom development.
Which means that MDM's time is right now.
So: we'll see you on-line in 2009!
Posted February 13, 2009 10:09 AM
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