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Your Choices for Data Governance Are Growing

Data governance is an expanding market segment. In just the last two years, in fact, the field has expanded dramatically, a function of start-up and acquisition activity.

A report from market-watcher Forrester Research explores the most prominent products in the suddenly sexy market for data governance stewardship and discovery technologies.

It's an expanding market segment. "The Forrester Wave: Data Governance Stewardship and Discovery Providers, Q2 2017" identifies 12 vendors that compete in the space; by contrast, a Forrester report published just two years ago identified 7.

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It isn't that there's been an explosion in new vendor entrants: at least two long-time players -- Data3sixty and Diaku -- were recently acquired, by Infogix and Informatica respectively. Two other vendors (Alation and Global IDs) were both shipping products when that earlier Forrester report was compiled. Nevertheless, the field has grown by dint of both start-up and acquisition activity. There's a very good reason for that, says Forrester.

"Data is ... becoming key for not only transactions and decision reports but also operations, customer engagement, product design, and product and service innovations, and it's now developing into a new source of revenue for organizations as well. [However,] firms must govern both internal and external data to improve its quality, protection, regulatory compliance, use, and storage," writes Forrester's Henry Peyret (joined by three other analysts) in the report.

Not Just Monitoring and Policy Enforcement

In a general sense, data governance stewardship and discovery technologies monitor and enforce policy whenever data is used or transformed, be it in the context of ETL and similar data integration jobs, data quality maintenance, master data management, or information life cycle management. The tools profiled in Forrester's Wave report are capable of doing a lot more than just monitoring and policy enforcement, however, according to Peyret.

True, their primary selling point is that they give organizations a means to manage data policies and rules centrally. However, today's data governance stewardship and discovery offerings have the ability to document and discover data sources, manage compliance with changing regulations, and "industrialize" privacy management. This last has particular salience vis-à-vis the European Union's General Data Privacy Regulation (GDPR), Forrester notes.

GDPR Compliance in Process

That said, GDPR support is about as robust in today's data governance and stewardship offerings as it is in most other technology segments: not very. "GDPR seems to be the magic word for vendors when selling their solutions due to the pressure imposed by the May 2018 deadline. [D]espite almost all the vendors announcing that they have a method, some templates, or their own solution to support GDPR, coverage is still very weak," Peyret argues.

"[Although] vendors' initial offerings will help [enterprise architecture] pros satisfy the regulators at first, all these solutions are a long way from supporting privacy management more broadly."

One problem is that most data governance and stewardship vendors are still working with customers on GDPR support. Not only are these projects in the pilot-testing phase, they also tend to be highly customized. "We expect to see many solution enhancements in the next two years. Vendors will need to demonstrate the value of their GDPR practice, methodology, and solutions -- and offer these out of the box, rather than as custom implementations."

From Leaders to Contenders

In Forrester's assessment of data governance stewardship and discovery products, three best-in-class players -- DATUM, Global Data Excellence, and Collibra -- lead the overall pack. They're followed by a mix of familiar (IBM, Informatica, and SAP, all of which have large market presences) and specialized (Alation, ALEX Solutions, BackOffice Associates, and Infogix) vendors that Forrester recognizes as "Strong Performers." Both Cloudera and Global IDs are ranked as "Contenders" -- although Cloudera, too, has a large market presence.

According to Peyret and Forrester, the data governance stewardship product landscape is very much in flux. Not only are the offerings themselves improving, but increasing demand for more feature-packed data governance and stewardship technologies -- exacerbated by legislation such as the GDPR -- will fuel acquisition and consolidation activity, too.

"Most of the vendors in this market are still small, and the larger platform vendors are buying them[, b]ut many outside investors are currently investigating significant investments in this market. Forrester sees this as a positive sign for the development of the market and offerings -- but increases a risk of overpromising and underdelivering," he concludes.

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