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Data management's top 10 stories of 2007

In 2007, data governance emerged from hibernation, MDM caught fire, and the BI market underwent an acquisition frenzy.

The past year certainly was a busy one for the data management market. Master data management (MDM) started to make more noise, data warehouse and business intelligence (BI) appliances became hot topics, and three of the top independent BI vendors were gobbled up by IT heavyweights SAP, Oracle and IBM. Now being as good a time as any to take a stroll down Memory Lane, we present the top 10 data management stories of 2007.

10. Hand coding is so passé. In 2007, a number of companies ditched manual data migration and integration processes for automated ones. One hardware franchise, for instance, used data integration software to upgrade its merchandising system. There may be an increasingly good argument for using data integration and migration tools, as one analyst pointed out. "A custom script," Forrester's Rob Karel said, "is not going to do anything about garbage data, it's just going to move it."

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9. Corporate performance management (CPM) made its way out of the finance department into the broader enterprise. According to Gartner, the CPM market grew substantially last year as more companies shunned Microsoft Excel in favor of more formal financial systems. The trend didn't go unnoticed by Business Objects, which acquired CPM vendor Cartesis in April, or by experts, many of whom weighed in with their CPM best practices. According to consultant Howard Dresner, CPM is not just a software component -- it's a program that often involves a shift in organizational cultures, processes and technology.

8. Unstructured data technologies took their place in the BI stack. One of the trickiest types of data for BI systems to handle is unstructured data. So it's not surprising that unstructured data technologies, namely text analytics and BI search, continued their integration into the BI stack, as an April TDWI report shows. Further proof that text analytics and BI search are gaining momentum: Business Objects' acquisition of text analytics vendor Inxight Software in May; and Bloor Research's Gerry Brown's coining of a new term in 2007, "content intelligence," defined as the combination of BI software and content management technologies.

7. Data governance reemerges. Like the floppy disk and the mood ring, data governance has been around since the 1970s. But unlike the first two, people still use data governance, though perhaps not with as much success as you might think. Gartner predicts that less than 10% of companies will succeed on their first data governance attempts in 2008. Still, driven by MDM and data quality initiatives, the importance of data governance became even clearer in 2007, and experts like Baseline Consulting's Jill Dyché offered tips to get data governance right the first time.

6. There's no time like the present, as real-time data integration and BI became top priorities for many. In fact, Gartner's Data Integration Magic Quadrant report in November cited real-time data integration as the method getting the most attention in the market. Earlier in the year, IBM acquired real-time data integration vendor DataMirror and the Richmond, Va., police department even used near real-time BI to catch crooks.

5. Interest in BI and data warehouse appliances continued to grow in 2007, as companies looked to improve results with tighter budgets. That's not to say that everyone even understands what BI and data warehouse appliances are, however. The Data Warehousing Institute tried to clear up the confusion for SearchDataManagement readers in November, while data expert Dr. Mark Whitehorn stressed in a September column that appliances are not a cure-all when it comes to BI problems.

4. Did you really think Microsoft would forgo the lucrative BI market? Of course you didn't. Last year saw the tech giant dip its toe into the BI pond, holding its first BI conference in Seattle in May, then launching its Office PerformancePoint Server in September. At the conference, Microsoft's Jeff Raikes declared that his company was "changing the economics of BI," and experts expect Microsoft to continue making waves in the BI market in 2008.

3. MDM market catches fire. OK, perhaps catch fire is a bit of an exaggeration, but the MDM market certainly heated up in 2007. MDM case studies garnered a lot of attention last year, and a number of high-profile events, including Gartner's first MDM Summit and TechTarget's own enterprise applications MDM seminar series, put MDM on the IT map. Microsoft even got in on the MDM action with its acquisition of analytic MDM vendor Stratature. But just in case you're still wondering what all the fuss is about, our MDM implementation strategies podcast will get you caught up in a snap.

2. Just when you thought you'd seen all it has to offer, BI proves you wrong. The past year saw a number of BI technology developments that bucked the status quo -- including the emergence of in-memory BI, the surprising growth of on-demand BI and the continued development of mobile BI. Gartner's prediction that "process and strategy-driven" BI would gain momentum proved correct, as BI truly reinvented itself in 2007 and made clear it has plenty of tricks left up its sleeve for the year ahead.

1. Without a doubt, the biggest story of 2007 was the M&A frenzy that resulted in the acquisitions of independent BI vendors Business Objects (scooped up by SAP), Cognos (acquired by IBM), and Hyperion (now the property of Oracle). The reality is that there's only a handful of independent BI vendors left in the market. How all this consolidation will affect BI deployments, as the big vendors begin integrating their newly acquired BI products with their own offerings, is the big question mark for 2008.

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