i2 Technologies Inc. plans to name at least 10 more systems integrator partners over the year ahead, as part of an escalating sales push around its data synchronization technology.
i2, a vendor best known until now for its supply chain products, will announce a couple of the new data synchronization partners about three weeks from now, said Pankaj Sehgal, i2’s vice president for product marketing and strategic OEMs, in an interview with The Channel Insider.
At least eight more SI partners for i2’s MDM (Master Data Management) data synchronization technology will be unveiled later this year, according to Sehgal. The new SI partners will be based in regions that include the United States, Europe and India.
Along the way, i2 will beef up its existing training program for SIs with domain-specific case studies about implementing data synchronization in the insurance industry, for example.
The training program already includes separate prongs for sales, pre-sales and technical consulting, he said.
Why is i2 placing more emphasis on MDM these days, and why is it teaming with partners to do so?
“Here is my personal opinion,” he answered. “If you look at ERP [enterprise resource planning] and CRM [customer relationship management], they’re not really growing right now. The supply chain’s had its trials and tribulations, too. But there are about 4,000 companies with annual revenues of over $1 billion, and each one of them is a compelling prospect for data synchronization.”
Companies of many different descriptions have data tucked away in different formats within various pockets of their organizations. Synchronization of all this informationboth internally and with partnerswill bring greater efficiencies for these customers, according to the i2 executive.
Meanwhile, with much of the software market remaining flat, some SIs are enjoying growth of 40 percent to 60 percent a year, Seghal told The Channel Insider.
i2 also expects to extend its customer reach in the data synchronization arena by working with about a dozen recently named ISV partners and their reseller and SI allies.
On the SI side, i2 is already working with three companies that each earn over $1 billion in annual revenues, as well as several in both the $500 million to $1 billion and $100 million to $400 million revenue ranges.
“Right now, we’re really targeting the top of the second tier, along with some players in the $100 [million] to $300 million category,” Sehgal said.
“We can’t work with IBM [Global Services] on MDM, and we’re not going to chase after Accenture [Inc.] and BearingPoint [Inc.].”
IBM now a data synchronization rival.
Since its recent acquisition of Trigo Technologies Inc.a company founded by some former i2 employeesIBM has become a competitor to i2 in the data synchronization arena, according to the i2 vice president. “But we’re still partnering with IBM for the supply chain,” he pointed out.
IBM has folded Trigo technology into its middleware, but IBM “isn’t doing data synchronization right,” he charged.
Unlike MDM, which also synchronizes information such as customer data, IBM is handling only PIM (product information management) data, according to Sehgal.
i2’s technology is also much more flexible with respect to the data formats it can handle, he contended.
Meanwhile, i2’s recently rolled out ISV partners include Microsoft Corp. and the Teradata division of NCR Corp., both announced during the i2 Planet user conference this week.
With many of these ISVs, i2 has worked out business deals in which i2 receives licensing fees and ISVs get service revenues for customer engagements.
In the Teradata deal, MDM will become certified for use with Teradata’s products, a move that will bring easier integration of BI (business intelligence), said Michael DeBrosse, Teradata’s vice president of Demand and Supply Chain Solutions.
“Before now, we’ve had some custom integration of MDM into data warehouses, but most of this has been done directly by customers,” DeBrosse told The Channel Insider.
Teradata is aiming its solutions at seven verticals: manufacturing, retail, transportation, telecommunications, government, travel and financial services, according to DeBrosse.
i2 is also looking at licensing MDM directly to SIs and ISVs, but no deals of this kind have yet been struck, Sehgal told The Channel Insider.
Some analysts applaud i2’s slate of new partnership deals. “Anything i2 can do to boost its revenues is good,” said Michael Schiff, an analyst with Current Analysis.
Other advantages foreseen by Schiff include greater scalability for i2’s technology and enhanced reputation with customers.
“You want your product to be supported on every possible platform. I2 can say that MDM runs in environments ranging from Microsoft’s to Teradata’s,” the analyst said.
“The Teradata deal will give i2 more credibility with customers and partners who handle huge amounts of data,” Schiff told The Channel Insider.