Gartner Magic Quadrant: Oracle and SAP prepare for data quality battle

Oracle is gradually catching up to its chief rival, SAP, in the race for data quality market dominance, according to Gartner.

German enterprise software goliath SAP AG is well ahead of its chief rival, Oracle Corp., in the race to gain the biggest share of the data quality software market, but Oracle is catching up fast, according to the latest Gartner Magic Quadrant for Data Quality Tools.

Oracle has been ramping up its data quality portfolio through key acquisitions, while SAP, which acquired business intelligence software maker BusinessObjects in 2008, has a stronger foothold in the market and a more coherent message for customers, according to the Stamford, Conn.-based IT research firm.

Oracle has got lots of stuff. It's just not well tied together.

Ted Friedman, vice president and distinguished analyst, Gartner Inc.

Organizations trying to decide between Oracle and SAP for data quality tools should remember that there are important tradeoffs to consider, advised Ted Friedman, a Gartner vice president and distinguished analyst and co-author of the report.

"If I'm looking for really deep product data capabilities, Oracle has got that really strongly [and] SAP has got a bit of a weakness there," Friedman said. "If I'm looking for a solution that is better integrated with less fragmentation, then I think SAP has got a bit of an advantage there. Oracle has got lots of stuff. It's just not well tied together."

The Gartner Magic Quadrant for Data Quality Tools ranks top data quality software vendors as leaders, challengers, niche players and visionaries based on several metrics, including "completeness of vision" and "ability to execute."

Gartner named DataFlux, Informatica, Trillium Software, IBM and SAP leaders in the market, while Pitney Bowes Business Insight and Oracle are listed in the challengers quadrant. DataLever, Uniserv, DataMentors, Human Inference, Datactics and Innovative Systems make up the niche players, and newcomers Talend and Ataccama are the visionaries.

"Oracle is relatively new in the data quality space," Friedman said, "whereas SAP, with the BusinessObjects technology, has been around it for a much longer period of time. I think that is a key difference."

Acquisition strategy lands Oracle in the Magic Quadrant

This year marks the first time that Oracle has met Gartner's criteria for inclusion in its annual ranking of the top data quality software vendors. Oracle's fledgling data quality portfolio received a major boost in June when the database giant acquired Datanomic, a U.K.-based software vendor.

"Oracle had acquired Silver Creek Systems in early 2010, but the product targeted only the product data domain, and didn't have other required capabilities for the Magic Quadrant," the report reads. "With Datanomic, a small but established vendor in the European data quality tools market, Oracle now can provide profiling, cleansing and matching for multiple data domains, from product data to party data, such as customer, supplier or employee."

Prior to the Silver Creek acquisition, Oracle maintained a presence in the data quality market primarily through partnerships and reseller agreements with third-party software vendors. According to Gartner, the company now plans to offer a fully integrated data quality suite of its own.

"Last year, Oracle just woke up one morning and said, 'Where are we with data quality?'" said Bertrand Diard, the CEO of Talend, an Oracle competitor that also made its first appearance in this year's Magic Quadrant for Data Quality Tools. "And finally, they just put a big check on the table."

Oracle's key strengths include its massive reach, which will allow it to address data quality issues worldwide, according to Gartner. The report says Oracle's main data quality weaknesses include its fragmented message and its failure to offer a cloud-based data quality offering thus far.

Oracle's product portfolio currently includes Enterprise Data Quality, which was formerly known as Datanomic dn:Director, and Enterprise Data Quality for Product Data.

Information Steward buoys SAP data quality portfolio

SAP's data quality program also got a boost this year when the company released BusinessObjects Information Steward 4.0, a fully integrated set of data profiling and metadata management tools, according to Gartner.

"With the recent delivery of the new Information Steward product, part of the SAP BusinessObjects version 4.0 technology set, SAP should be able to gain greater adoption of its profiling capabilities, as well as capture the growing demand generated by an increased focus on information governance in the market," the report reads.

Gartner reports that SAP's key data quality strengths include its "good breadth of functionality" and its focus on customer data quality. Friedman said SAP's primary weakness centers on its need for improvement in the realm of product data quality.

"SAP still needs to grow its level of maturity to apply to product data," Friedman said. "But I think SAP is getting better at that. The Information Steward product helps that a bit because it's pretty domain agnostic."

In addition to Information Steward, SAP's data quality portfolio includes Data Quality Management, Data Insight and Data Services.

Oracle and SAP support services require careful consideration

Oracle and SAP have checkered pasts in the area of product support. SAP customers interviewed for the Magic Quadrant for Data Quality Tools gave the vendor consistently weak scores when asked about their satisfaction with the vendor's support services. Customer complaints about Oracle support services, meanwhile, have been well publicized in media reports.

That's why it's particularly important to scrutinize Oracle’s and SAP's support offerings before making any buying decisions, Friedman said. That means finding out which partner, if any, will be providing the support service, and closely examining any contracts before signing. The same advice holds true for the rest of the vendors listed in the Magic Quadrant, he added.

"Organizations should be aware that not all vendors provide a good degree of consistency and high quality in product support," Friedman said. "[Customers] should be evaluating providers based in part on the product support and service experience that the customer base is getting."

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