IBM has taken another key step in its Information Agenda strategy, improving customers’ ability to analyze, understand and remediate existing data by acquiring Exeros. There is a fundamental business problem that grows with data volume: an understanding gap. As new development, acquisition and integration of multiple systems takes place, meaning and process understanding are often obscured or lost entirely. At the edge, this is manifested when new BI efforts attempt to find data and its meaning. Exeros Discovery is a leading solution to that problem. My good friend Jim Kobielus of Forrester has provided some excellent background in his blog here. Some other firms are also pursuing this kind of BI-related analysis; Balanced Insight comes to mind, and I’ll blog about them soon. IBM’s ambition is broader than that, and acquiring Exeros is a key enabler of its vision.
Creating, maintaining, and especially optimizing corporate information assets rarely proceed in an orderly fashion. We tend to solve the business problems in front of us, and big picture issues get short shrift. Preventing and remediating redundant, inefficient and obscure data sprawl takes discipline, time and analytical skills that are, and will always be, in short supply in most organizations. Architecture and stewardship projects all too often fall to the bottom of the priority list because something else “must be done sooner.” Stewardship projects using MDM and data quality products often take a long time – too long in many cases to get the funding and resources they need. Exeros was having success in the market by shortening the early stages of these projects. They have described a number of marquee customers who achieved substantial savings in MDM and DW efforts by automating the analysis needed to get the project launched. Numbers like “10x reduction” or “cutting 70%” have been part of Exeros’ message. IBM’s goal here is clear: it wants to lower the barriers that prevent responsible data architecture practices from gaining a foothold.
It’s no accident, then, that while IBM’s Arvind Krishna talked about InfoSphere in the analyst call about the Exeros acquisition, he also noted the expected synergies with the Optim product line. I’ve talked about those products here, and the development and enhancement of Optim’s products has been aggressive. IT Market Strategy expects to see new announcements from Optim before the quarter is over. The addition of Exeros adds another important tool to IBM’s arsenal. “Discovery by itself is useless,” Exeros’ Piyush Gupta said on the call. Perhaps that was a bit too strong. But there is no question that the efficiency, validation and remediation capabilities of Exeros Validator, which can apply business rules found by Exeros Discovery (or manually input) will have an accelerating effect on projects. and strengthen IBM’s Information Agenda story.
The people of Exeros – executives, engineering, sales – and even (in a very unusual step) reseller partners – are apparently all coming aboard. And they are a good team. But the leverage of a sales and technical team like IBM’s will mean we are about to see a familiar tale unfold. Exeros had recently moved to an indirect sales model, and suddenly they have 1000+ IBM salespeople (and soon the new BAO team, discussed here) pushing them in the marketplace. The “acquire, distribute, bluewash and integrate – then sell even more” model is alive and well, and we can expect to see substantial revenue in the very near term from this deal. IBM may have chosen a terrible time to make the announcement, letting it get buried in the tsunami of announcements from the WebSphere brand’s Impact event, but that will not slow down field level execution.
[Edit 5/7/09] See also http://www.ramonchen.com/?p=879 for some thoughtful commentary.