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For passing the buck, there's nothing quite like information governance. It's an IT space in which everyone gets to blame everyone else and no one has to take responsibility for errors. The heart of the problem, Gartner says, is that it is difficult to measure and locate accountability and responsibility. 

But this traditional view of governance is changing. As organizations digitize their customer relationships, the way information is synchronized and shared with trading partners is becoming a core business responsibility. 

And these three vendors excel.

Agility and Big Data

This is being facilitated by the rise of agile, cloud-based approaches to information governance by smaller vendors. These newbies can not only manage data, but also integrate new internal and external big data sources into the information governance paradigm.

In fact, according to Gartner’s recently published Cool Vendors in Information Governance and MDM, 2014 (paid), not only will smaller, more agile vendors begin to make their mark, they will also become essential to fully support information governance and Master Data Management (MDM) goals.

In business, MDM consists of all the processes, governance, policies, standards and tools that consistently define and manage the critical data of an organization to provide a single point of reference.

These new vendors will play the key role of filling out the gaps in big data integration and management, which is quickly becoming one of the core concerns for all those involved in the management of data.

Agility is core here, prompting Gartner to recommend that enterprises look to cloud vendors that can automate the discovery, classification and disposition of unstructured data.

Information Governance To 2017

This is a growing business, and one that will be linked with the use of big data sets across the enterprise for the foreseeable future. According to this report, by 2017, 35 percent of all information governance and MDM software sales will be made on the vendor's ability to link structured master data with big data sources.

This new business has been built on the back of a massive growth in new types of data, as well as increasingly stringent regulatory regimes and concerns over privacy and the risks to information.

Gartner points out that the real value of information cannot be fully realized unless the information itself can be trusted, and it cannot be trusted unless it is properly governed.

On top of this, because the governance of information requires input from so many different elements in the enterprise, it also requires the use of multiple products and vendors and will continue do so for the foreseeable future.

Gartner adds that organizations are now beginning to realize that governance is not just about putting files in the right place, but about the management of the entire lifecycle of information.

However, there are a number of different, specialized vendors that are starting to emerge to support the principal three key areas around information governance:

  • Integration of large internal and external datasets;
  • Automating the discovery and classification of unstructured data; and 
  • Providing data as a service to a front end or user facing process without changing or manipulating the underlying data stores.

3 Cool Information Governance Vendors

One  thing that is striking about this report is that Gartner considers only three vendors "cool." This possibly reflects the complexity and difficulty of meeting market demands.

It may also reflect the fact that many organizations are only starting to take information governance seriously, with the emergence of big data sets and the clear role of information in providing excellent customer experiences.

That said, the three vendors are as follows:


Acaveo keeps unruly, unstructured content in control across applications as diverse as Microsoft Exchange, SharePoint, Office 365 and Box data stores. It does this by providing reporting and visualization of the metadata to enable organizations to

  • Reduce storage costs and improve storage management;
  • Provide enhanced security by identifying and tracking intellectual property;
  • Provide and implement data classification; and
  • Enable static or dynamic search through correlation of users, groups and other identify attributes.

It also covers mailbox delegates, folder sharing, public folder permissions in Exchange and all permissions in SharePoint.

Acaveo is a relative newcomer, having only started developing in 2012, and made its flagship product, SIS, available in April 2013. It also released DataClassifier, a SharePoint add-on for data privacy and auto-classification.

According to Gartner, however, what really makes it stand out is its user-friendly administration console, its interactive reporting dashboard, its ability to crawl and classify data in Box and its tight integration with SharePoint, Exchange and Office 365.


Like any player in this space, it is competing in a crowded market for unstructured data management. Traditional vendors of storage, security, e-discovery, information management and other solutions are introducing tools that crawl, classify and report on metadata and content.

As a newcomer it has also yet to roll out a comprehensive go to market strategy, as it currently spends most of it time on development. Additionally, it is almost exclusively focused on Microsoft environments at this time. 

  • For Who? This is for organizations that are looking for better storage management, file share migration and the development of information governance strategies that include unstructured data management.


In developing information governance and MDM strategies , the challenge is to locate data and translate it from its current format into something that can be used in multiple ways. This is exactly what Ostia’s Portus does. It takes data from disparate systems and legacy applications and makes it available as a service. This enables organizations to create data as a service that can be made available to all devices and applications.

Using its intelligent discovery and dependency mapper tools it creates a data map of systems and gives a holistic view of an organization’s information assets without having to change the underlying systems. For any business that is developing an information governance strategy, this is one of the first steps they need to carry out.


Ostia’s principal challenge is its vertical market focus and where it should go with its products. Gartner points out that this is a common problem for new, small vendors particularly those with a technology that can be many things to many people. The challenge, therefore, is to pick a set of business problems to focus on. This, Gartner says, is the key to market success.

  • For Who? This is for organizations that are looking to understand structured and unstructured data assets or legacy applications as part of their wider governance strategy.


Reltio offers what Gartner describes as a nimble, cloud based platform that supports a more agile approach to MDM and big data integration. In this respect, Reltio should appeal to heavy adopters of MDM and information governance, especially those that are looking to integrate unstructured data into their traditional MDM portfolio.

Reltio is another relative newcomer and was founded in 2011 by former members of the MDM teams at Siperian and Informatica, which gives it an expertise beyond its years.

Reltio's Quantum MDM platform provides a cloud based "NextGen MDM + Business Graph" set of capabilities to assess, master and integrate data from enterprise applications, third party data feeds and social media while providing mainstream MDM functions in private and public clouds.


The biggest problem facing Reltio is the persistent concerns organizations have about storing their master data -- particularly customer data -- in the public cloud. On top of this is the fact that many organizations will be reluctant to move to the cloud after making considerable investments in on premise applications.

  • For Who? This is for those that are looking for cutting edge, agile cloud based solutions to manage their master data and integrate it with international and external big data sources.

That’s this year’s list of information and MDM "cool" vendors. With the pressure on organizations to integrate and secure big data sets, it would not be surprising to see more entrants in the next list as new vendors come up with new products.

Title image by DrimaFilm / Shutterstock.