Building MDM-Powered Solutions with Initiate Composer

Earlier this week, I saw a demo of Initiate’s new Composer product, and was impressed. Composer, announced in March and scheduled for release in June, will be available to all existing Initiate customers.

Initiate Composer is a framework for building MDM-powered solutions on top of the company’s MDM hub, which is called Initiate Master Data Service. Typically, an MDM hub is populated with data from monolithic enterprise systems like front office suites such as customer relationship management (CRM) applications and back office suites such as enterprise resource planning (ERP) applications.

Essentially, these data sources offer the best of both worlds. By pulling the data into a robust MDM hub, you create a “single view of the customer” rather than having multiple views within different silos across the enterprise. Then by building a new, easy-to-use application on top of that trustworthy data, you’ve found a way to quickly deliver value from the MDM initiative back into the business.

Of course, in the real world it’s never quite that easy. But one of the most common things we see clients wanting to do with their newly-built MDM hub is to make the information in it widely available to the enterprise – for search, for reference, for additional data entry, for automation of manual processes, and for viewing corporate hierarchies and other relationships.

Based on the demo I saw, Initiate fulfills this need with Composer. Customer teams can now quickly create production-ready user interfaces that are pre-integrated with the Initiate Master Data Service.

Composer creates Adobe Flex applications, which are cross-platform rich Internet applications. This is helpful because they will run on a variety of clients inside only a browser.

It was impressive to see the degree to which business analysts could quickly be productive writing simple MDM applications, even if they were prototypes that would need to be finished up by a developer. A lot of times, there’s a big gap between design documents and working code. It’s a lot easier for a power user or a business analyst to work with a tool like Composer to “show you what I want” than to just describe it verbally, in writing or on a white board.

With Composer, teams can more easily and more productively build a variety of different user interfaces on top of Initiate’s MDM hub. IBM thought highly enough of Initiate Systems back in February to acquire the company. While I’m sure that Composer was only a small part of why that happened, I’m sure it didn’t hurt.

Initiate has always been a company I’ve followed closely and with whom Hub Designs has partnered, and we look forward to continuing that as they become part of the IBM universe.

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7 Comments on “Building MDM-Powered Solutions with Initiate Composer”

  1. Garnie Bolling 05/28/2010 at 11:10 am #

    Very nice Dan that you published this.

    Where can we get a demonstration of the Composer product? Are there any other sources that we can get to help us better understand the offering?

    Really nice to see Initiate come out with a tool that provides more context to the master data, and allowing the business analysts to create basic mdm apps.

    I appreciate the information

  2. Dan Power 05/28/2010 at 1:06 pm #

    Glad you liked the article, Garnie. Always good to see you here. Another source of information from Initiate is a product overview at http://www.initiate.com/resources/Documents/Initiate-Composer.pdf – I found it very helpful.

    If you’d like, I can put you in touch with the right folks at Initiate; I’m sure they’d be happy to arrange a demo for you, like the one I had this week. Just let me know if you’d like to hear from them.

  3. Karl Weinmeister 05/28/2010 at 4:50 pm #

    Garnie,
    I’m glad to hear you’re interested in Composer. I’m the product manager, and I’d be happy to schedule a demo with you. You can visit the link above for my contact information at the Initiate blog.

    Also, stay tuned to our Twitter feed for a public webinar after the launch: http://twitter.com/initiate.

    Have a great memorial day weekend!

  4. Sreepad 06/04/2010 at 11:28 am #

    Hi Dan,

    Can you share your thoughts on IBM buying Initiate ? Does it mean their existing MDM solution cannot do all the cleansing, matching, merging, etc. I can understand Silvercreek being bought by Oracle as it enhances their engine, but can’t understand why IBM would go for yet another MDM solution. By the way, after reading your earlier blog on “Initiate being bought by IBM”, it sounds like IBM bought it just to capture the market. Is that true ?

  5. Dan Power 06/08/2010 at 3:48 pm #

    Thanks for your comment, Sreepad. I think IBM buying Initiate was a great move for both companies. Initiate wasn’t going to remain independent forever, and IBM was a great new parent company for them. I don’t think the acquisition in any way means that IBM’s existing MDM solutions can’t “do all the cleansing, matching, merging”. What I think it does mean is that IBM sees the MDM market growing strongly over the next 5-10 years and wants to capture more of that growth instead of seeing a good chunk of it going to an independent Initiate (or to Initiate under a different parent company, which is more likely).

    Certainly, IBM has some ‘splaining to do to its current and future customers, but that’s a good problem to have. I’d rather have 3 strong products than 2, as it increases the chances that my prospect is going to get their needs met by my product rather than someone else’s.

    So yes, I think you could say that IBM bought Initiate just to capture the market, but I don’t see anything wrong with that on IBM’s or Initiate’s part. That’s just the way of the world, and in many ways, that’s how innovation happens in today’s environment.

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