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IBM Nabs DWL for Customer Data Integration

DWL makes IBM an instant force to be reckoned with in customer data integration

IBM Corp. last week fleshed out its already-strong data integration portfolio with the acquisition of privately-held DWL Inc., a leading provider of customer data integration (CDI) middleware.

The DWL acquisition helps IBM fill a hole in its data integration stack, which previously lacked CDI capabilities, and also helps to shore up Big Blue’s master data management (MDM) portfolio. On top of this, analysts say, it makes IBM an instant force to be reckoned with in the CDI space.

“[I]t will strengthen IBM’s overall master data management capabilities in general and its customer data integration capabilities in particular,” writes Mike Schiff, a senior analyst with consultancy Current Analysis Inc. “It supports IBM’s overall data integration and middleware presence and complements other recent acquisitions such as its … acquisition [earlier this year] of data quality and integration specialist Ascential Software.”

The DWL acquisition is also a textbook example of the strategy IBM has employed to grow its data integration portfolio, says Schiff.

“This marks IBM’s Information Management division’s ninth acquisition since it acquired the Informix databases in 2001 and provides yet another example of how IBM seems to acquire partners whose technology provides functionality and capabilities that it wishes to have in its own portfolio,” he writes. In this case, DWL and IBM have partnered together (as “Strategic Business Partners”) in many joint accounts, where DWL’s CDI technologies have been deployed with IBM’s Information Management offerings.

DWL brings considerable heft to IBM’s information management portfolio. It has more than 140 employees and for three years has made the Deloitte Fast 500 list, which ranks the fastest growing technology companies in North America. Admittedly, DWL’s revenues (estimated at $30 million annually) won’t impact IBM’s considerable bottom line, but the company is profitable, says Schiff, with 100 percent year-to-year revenue growth.

DWL’s flagship offering is DWL Customer, a customer master data hub that provides a unified customer view, supports privacy profiles, cross-channel interaction history, customer relationships and groupings (households), customer values, duplicate suspect processing, and event notifications. Last but not least, DWL Customer is built on top of a service-oriented architecture.

DWL’s bread-and-butter vertical is the financial services industry, where its clients include AXA, CitiCorp, Dominion of Canada General Insurance, JP MorganChase, MetLife, Nationwide, SunTrust, and UnumProvident. But IBM says it’s a player in other verticals, including health care, manufacturing, media, pharmaceuticals, and retail. Given DWL’s primacy as an MDM and CDI player, analysts say, the acquisition could help to further expand IBM’s already strong presence in these verticals, too: Big Blue will, after all, provide a one-stop shop for almost any conceivable data integration need.

There’s a further wrinkle: DWL—like the former Ascential Software Corp., a respected purveyor of data-integration and data-quality software—will bring IBM much-needed credibility in a burgeoning data-integration market segment. “By acquiring DWL, IBM immediately becomes an established customer data integration vendor and enhances its overall master data management functionality,” Schiff notes.

For the record, IBM says that it won’t discontinue DWL’s existing products, and that all DWL employees and executives will be offered positions within IBM. Once the acquisition is complete (by year-end), DWL will become part of the Enterprise Master Data Solutions subset of IBM’s Information Management division.

About the Author

Stephen Swoyer is a technology writer with 20 years of experience. His writing has focused on business intelligence, data warehousing, and analytics for almost 15 years. Swoyer has an abiding interest in tech, but he’s particularly intrigued by the thorny people and process problems technology vendors never, ever want to talk about. You can contact him at [email protected].

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