We’re announcing today that I’m joining the board of directors of Profisee, a leader in master data management (MDM). I’m doing so for several reasons, mostly reflecting my belief that successful technology companies are about three things: the people, the space, and the product.
I like the people at both an investor and management level. I’m old friends with a partner at ParkerGale, the private equity (PE) firm backing Profisee, and I quite like the people at ParkerGale, the culture they’ve created, their approach to working with companies, and of course the lead partner on Profisee, Kristina Heinze.
The management team, led by veteran CEO and SAP alumnus Len Finkle, is stocked with domain experts from larger companies including SAP, Oracle, Hyperion, and Informatica. What’s more, Gartner VP and analyst Bill O’Kane recently joined the company. Bill covered the space at Gartner for over 8 years and has personally led MDM initiatives at companies including MetLife, CA Technologies, Merrill Lynch, and Morgan Stanley. It’s hard to read Bill’s decision to join the team as anything but a big endorsement of the company, its leadership, and its strategy.
These people are the experts. And instead of working at a company where MDM is an element of an element of a suite that no one really cares about anymore, they are working at a focused market leader that worries about MDM — and only MDM – all day, every day. Such focus is powerful.
I like the MDM space for several reasons:
- It’s a little obscure. Many people can’t remember if MDM stands for metadata management or master data management (it’s the latter). It’s under-penetrated; relatively few companies who can benefit from MDM use it. Historically the market has been driven by “reluctant spend” to comply with regulatory requirements. Megavendors don’t seem to care much about MDM anymore, with IBM losing market share and Oracle effectively exiting the market. It’s the perfect place for a focused specialist to build a team of people who are passionate about the space and build a market-leading company.
- It’s substantial. It’s a $1B market today growing at 5%. You can build a nice company stealing share if you need to, but I think there’s an even bigger opportunity.
- It’s teed up to grow. On the operational side, I think that single source of truth, digital transformation, and compliance initiatives will drive the market. On the analytical side, if there’s one thing 20+ years in and around business intelligence (BI) has taught me, it’s GIGO (garbage in, garbage out). If you think the GIGO rule was important in traditional BI, I’d argue it’s about ten times more important in an artificial intelligence and machine learning (AI/ML) world. Garbage data in, garbage model and garbage predictions out. Data quality is the Achilles’ heel of modern analytics.
I like Profisee’s product because:
- It’s delivering well for today’s customers.
- It has the breadth to cover a wide swath of MDM domains and use-cases.
- It provides a scalable platform with a broad range of MDM-related functionality, as opposed to a patchwork solution set built through acquisition.
- It’s easy to use and makes solving complex problems simple.
- It’s designed for rapid implementation, so it’s less costly to implement and faster to get in production which is great for both committed MDM users and — particularly important in an under-penetrated market – those wanting to give MDM a try.
I look forward to working with Len, Kristina, and the team to help take Profisee to the next level, and beyond.
Now, before signing off, let me comment on how I see Profisee relative to my existing board seat at Alation. Alation defined the catalog space, has an impressive list of enterprise customers, raised a $50M round earlier this year, and has generally been killing it. If you don’t know the data space well you might see these companies as competitive; in reality, they are complementary and I think it’s synergistic for me to work with both.
- Data catalogs help you locate data and understand the overall data set. For example, with a data catalog you can find all of the systems and data sets where you have customer data across operational applications (e.g., CRM, ERP, FP&A) and analytical systems (e.g., data warehouses, data lakes).
- MDM helps you rationalize the data across your operational and analytical systems. At its core, MDM solves the problem of IBM being entered in your company’s CRM system as “Intl Business Machines,” in your ERP system as “International Business Machines,” and in your planning system as “IBM Corp,” to give a simple example. Among other approaches, MDM introduces the concept of a golden record which provides a single source of truth of how, in this example, the customer should be named.
In short, data catalogs help you find the right data and MDM ensures the data is clean when you find it. You pretty obviously need both.