How an Acquisition Informatica Made 10 Years Ago Led to Our Next Phase of Great

This week marks the 10th anniversary of the Informatica acquisition of Siperian. In the ten years since that acquisition, Siperian has been renamed Informatica Multidomain MDM, and is now recognized as a leading solution in the market. More than 2,000 organizations now count on Informatica to solve some of the most complex data challenges that would otherwise hinder their ability to grow fast and allows them to intelligently address their customer experience initiatives.

As we hit this major 10-year landmark, we were also thrilled to hear that Informatica was named a Leader in the latest Gartner Magic Quadrant for Master Data Management Solutions published last week. When you realize that not many companies are even able to survive an acquisition like this—and an even smaller percentage have transformed in the process by delivering industry-leading innovations along the way—this recognition from Gartner is a great validation of our commitment to customer success.  

To mark these two milestones, I sat down with three of my colleagues (Khoi Hoang, Ron Matusof, and Lesley Hanly, whose bios follow below) who joined Informatica as a result of the Siperian acquisition. Here are some of the highlights of our discussion:

1. Tell me a bit about your history with our MDM solution?

KHOI: It was my brother Ken, who came up with the concept of Siperian towards the end of 2000 and asked me to join him as employee #2. I can’t believe it’s been almost 20 years in this space that we helped to define as MDM. 

LESLEY: It’s crazy how the time’s flown by! I started working on the software that’s now Informatica Multidomain MDM when I joined a startup called Delos back in 2001, and then Siperian acquired us in 2003.

RON: I am the “youngster” in this group with only 17 years in the space. My first day at Siperian I was asked to help with the due diligence of Delos.  Seven years later, I was on the other end answering Informatica’s questions as they did due diligence on Siperian.

2. What makes you continue to stay at Informatica 10 years after the acquisition? 

KHOI:  That’s an easy answer: it’s the people and the culture.  I really do enjoy working with the people here at Informatica and enjoy feeling that I am making a direct impact on the business. I am amazed that our executives (Amit Walia, Suresh Menon, Tracy Newell) actually take the time to listen to me and care about what I think. Additionally, my principal architects and MDM specialist teams are the best in the business. These people are like family to me. As for the culture, Informatica has the mentality of a startup but on steroids. What I mean by that is that we have very senior executives who aren’t afraid to be innovative and push the envelope but know how to avoid the mistakes of those who have never gone through it before. If you look around, many of Informatica’s leaders have come from acquired startups and continue to work here. 

RON:   For me, it’s three things. First, 17 years later we are still solving hard problems that are meaningful and impactful to our customers.  Second, we have the fortune of working with great people. One great thing about Informatica is that we are a highly diverse group of people focused entirely on our customer’s success. We have brought in top talent from almost every major developer of 360 applications and products and have incorporated their experience and ideas to help drive us forward. And that leads to my third reason for staying— Informatica continues to innovate and to stay on the leading edge of technology in order to solve our customer’s toughest problems.   

LESLEY: I actually did leave Informatica! In 2012, I left to help start up a cloud-based MDM application for life sciences. But I came back to Informatica two years later, because the innovation vision that Suresh laid out for me was so compelling, so ambitious, and so interesting that I wanted to be a part of it. And I had found that I missed Informatica a lot. Khoi, Ron, you both mentioned the people here, and that was a big factor in bringing me back to Informatica. People treat each other with respect here and it’s a very collaborative culture with fantastic diversity.  

3. What is one memorable event that you can remember from your days here? 

KHOI:  Well, there are some crazy stories to tell.  Some might not be appropriate for this audience…  Really, my first memory was our first Sales Kick-off at Informatica in New Orleans. Coming from a 200-person company, I was suddenly overwhelmed with how many sales and presales people we had and what an impact we could make. We crushed it our first year after being acquired and haven’t looked back since. 

RON: There have been so many of them.  I think one of the more memorable moments was the first MDM Summit we held in New York City.  We had User Groups at Siperian and felt great that we had 50 attendees.  For New York, we put the event together in a very short period of time and still had several hundred enthusiastic customers participate.   

LESLEY: There was a great buzz at that MDM summit! And there certainly have been a lot of memorable parties and social events! But my favorite memory is of my first day back at Informatica in 2014. It was actually in Stuttgart, where we were having planning meetings, and even though I was in a foreign city that I’d never been to before, as soon as I met up again with all my Informatica colleagues, I felt right at home; it was as if I’d never left. It’s a warm and friendly place to work.   

4. What changes have happened in the market in the past 10 years, and how is Informatica able to continue to innovate? How are we still keeping up and staying relevant in this constantly changing world? 

KHOI: Wow… what a difference 10 years makes. Before the acquisition, Siperian had a great product but wasn’t a really well-known brand outside of the pharma and financial services sectors. Through the years, we have doubled down on product innovation in areas around integration across our platform (data integration, data quality, etc.), as well as focusing on making our product enterprise quality around performance and scalability. As MDM users became more and more business-oriented, we made investments to provide user interfaces and services that focused on business user experience. The one thing that’s really different about our approach: Informatica doesn’t blindly innovate or create cool-looking UIs with no substance underneath. Instead, we look at what the customer really needs to be successful and focus our innovation in those areas. A good example of this is in our solutions like Customer 360, Product 360, and Reference 360. These solutions have shortened the implementation time from 6–12 months to 2–3 months. This is incredible, considering the difficult problems that MDM solves. Started with around 50 customers 10 years ago, we now have over 2000 customers and growing rapidly.

RON:   When I joined Siperian in 2003, the market was focused on cleaning the dimensional data in data warehouses. It was purely an analytical activity managed by data technologists. By 2010, when we became part of Informatica, more operational use cases had begun to appear, but data was still mostly managed by data technologists. Over the last 10 years, there has been a move to democratize data, and make it more available and more meaningful to both the business and IT. We have moved away from simply mastering data and more to self-service mastering and relating of data in order to extract meaningful insights to the business. 

LESLEY: I think part of that democratization of data—and the expectations of business users with regards to their experiences with the applications that they engage with—is largely driven by applications moving to the cloud. And as more applications move to the cloud, the data management solutions that support them are also moving to the cloud. We have a large percentage of customers that have a cloud-first strategy and many customers that have already moved MDM to the cloud—either in their own cloud ecosystem like AWS or Azure (and our first Google Cloud deployment recently went live!)—or in Informatica’s cloud. Even companies that want to keep their MDM system on premises still want the continuous innovation and ease of upgrades of cloud solutions, as well as user interfaces aimed at less-technical users. We’ve invested heavily in cloud—and will continue to do so—but we haven’t done it at the expense of our on-premises customers, and we’re innovating on-premises and in the cloud, and even sharing capabilities across both. We’ve also heavily invested in security and processes and DevOps to ensure that our cloud customers are successful.  

5. Customer success has been a focus on this company all these years. How do we continue to rate high in this area?  

RON:  For us, this is a badge of honor.    A lot of companies talk about how they help customers become successful, but Informatica embeds “Think Customer First” as one of our four core values and so it is part of everything we do. We literally invest in customer success and we are constantly working to even further improve our customer’s experience. 

LESLEY: I’m constantly amazed and impressed by our customer support team. They have such deep expertise and they’re so passionate about getting things right for our customers. And I see the same commitment from all parts of the company—from account executives representing their customers’ interests, from professional services colleagues giving our team feedback on prioritization and designs for new features, from marketing, from product management, from R&D. It starts with our executive team and their enthusiasm for engaging with customers.

6. We’re all thrilled with the latest Magic Quadrant… what does it say to you? 

KHOI: In the 10 years since Informatica acquired Siperian, we went from mid-range Visionary to high-end Leader by constantly adjusting to the market. I am also very proud of this accomplishment, as it is verbalizing the voice of our customers.  Not only have customers invested in us but they are telling others of their success and demonstrates our commitment to them. 

LESLEY: Yes, I couldn’t be more thrilled with our position on the “Ability to Execute” scale because that does reflect customer input. Actually, come to think of it, our position on the “Completeness of Vision” scale does, too—we don’t come up with product vision in a vacuum! We’re constantly talking to customers to understand their master data challenges and opportunities. We also talk to partners and to the analysts in the space, who all talk to many more enterprises than we can, to get their ideas on where the market is going. And we have a passionate group of “MDMers” in customer support, IPS, and sales who give us constant feedback. And we act on all that input by continuously investing in development and technologies to make sure we’re constantly moving forward. 

RON: That moves us ahead on the vision scale constantly, but what this year’s MQ really highlights for me is that it recognizes our commitment to our customers’ success. Software for complex data problems like 360 solutions aren’t successful unless it’s backed with the services and support that customers need in order to succeed.

7. From a competition standpoint, what trends stand out to you? 

LESLEY: It sort of amuses me and sort of annoys me that some of our competitors try to paint us as “legacy.” Some of them will even try to talk of us as “Siperian.” We’ve moved so far beyond the capabilities that we had at Siperian!  

KHOI: It seems to me that the legacy label most often comes from startups that don’t have the breadth of capabilities we’ve developed over the years to truly address the requirements around mastering.  

RON: What’s interesting is that the competition used to be big names, who have pretty much disappeared from this market. What’s left is the startups who can’t compete with us on capabilities, so they try to make us seem old school.  

LESLEY: You said something earlier that I think also refutes the picture those competitors try to paint, which is that we’ve brought in top talent from almost every major developer of MDM software—and also MDM implementers—and brought their ideas and experience to bear on our roadmap and innovation.  

KHOI: Sure, and we have a ton of experience implementing successful customers, and we have innovated even further to make sure that our customers are successful. Also, Siperian isn’t the only MDM software we’ve acquired to round out our MDM capabilities. We acquired Heiler for best-in-class product information management, and Active Endpoints for business process management, and of course last year we acquired AllSight because we recognize that there is an unmet need around bringing relationships, interactions and transactions together with master data to drive business insights and recommendations. What’s even more exciting is our roadmap for our next-gen products that will be released this year. I can’t wait! 

LESLEY: Yeah, I’m excited to be able to start to show customers what we’ve been working on there!  

RON: And of course, we continue to invest.  Last year, we added Greenbay Technologies to our portfolio to get additional AI/ML capabilities to add to our already industry-leading match solution. And that’s just in the 360 solutions. Our purchase of Diaku a few years ago to augment our data governance offerings with the Axon solution has been a game-changer in data governance, and like Khoi and Lesley, I can’t wait until our next-generation products are released later this year. 

Khoi Hoang: One of the founders of Siperian. Passionate about master data management, Khoi leads a team of principal architects who use their deep understanding of today’s complex technology landscape to help organizations make the right technology choices. His unique understanding of the business problems organizations face allows him to recommend the solution that not only addresses their immediate business pain but future-proofs their investment. Connect with Khoi via LinkedIn.

Ron Matusof: Known as “Yoda of MDM” within Informatica, Ron has a distinct honor of knowing almost every Informatica customer and working with them in addressing their technical challenges every day. He and his team deliver a unique and deep technical offering to our customers to ensure they are successful with MDM.  Connect with Ron via LinkedIn.

Lesley Hanly: A senior director of product management at Informatica, Lesley oversees all aspects of Informatica Multidomain MDM. She has spent nearly 19 years with the software in various roles, including professional services, customer support, and product management. Lesley meets with customers on a daily basis and believes that this regular customer contact helps her to understand the key challenges organizations are facing and translate those to product capabilities.  Connect with Lesley via LinkedIn.

I hope you enjoyed this conversation with these MDM experts. Be sure to check out the latest Gartner Magic Quadrant for Master Data Management Solutions report. If you have any questions, reach out to me on my Twitter handle @MDMGeek. You can also connect with me on LinkedIn.