Doubling Down on Data Governance: Q&A with Adam Famularo, CEO, erwin, Inc.

Private equity firm Parallax Capital Partners acquired erwin Data Modeler software from CA Technologies in April 2016. Since then, operating as erwin, Inc. and led by IT industry veteran Adam Famularo, the company has rebranded itself as “the data governance company,” launched new products, and made a number of strategic acquisitions—including most recently Rome-based A&P Consulting. Famularo spoke with BDQ about the changes at erwin over the past 2 years and shared his views on where the IT market overall is headed.

BDQ: Can you bring us up-to-date on what has been happening at erwin?
Adam Famularo: The goals and aspirations from Day 1 were to take the erwin data modeling assets and build a data management software company. The plan was always that it would be a three-tiered process. The first is acquiring companies and integrating them together. Second is building a world-class engineering organization that can build innovative new technologies. The third part is forming strategic alliances in the marketplace to help bring our products to market and grow our overall opportunity.

What has been the greatest challenge?
Whenever you have goals as lofty as ours, there are a series of things. It is never just one thing. First, it is about the leadership team of people that you bring on board and ensuring they are aligned to those goals and aspirations.

How have the acquisitions of Corso and Casewise been central to erwin’s strategy?
That is the second part of the strategy. It is hard to find the right companies and complete acquisitions, but then also to formulate and integrate the company’s team into a new culture. That was a big piece of work. During the 12-month period after acquiring erwin, we acquired Corso and Casewise. We had to assimilate them into our culture, welcome them as part of our team, and really leverage them and their assets to help drive our vision forward. The Corso acquisition was specifically around the Corso platform and its development team. Martin Owen was the CEO and he is now running our product management and strategy. Martin also came onboard with a brilliant engineering team in the UK. In addition to the EA Agile product that they have built and developed, they have built and developed our NoSQL product. And, they have also helped lead the way for our new data governance product.

Where does the acquisition of business process modeling provider Casewise fit?
Casewise has a great field sales as well as a field services organization. Now, with Casewise and erwin combined, we have more than 3,000 large enterprise customers. With the Casewise acquisition, we strengthened our enterprise architecture and business process modeling to go along with data modeling and also rounded out our data management package. After we finished the Casewise acquisition, we had a full go-to-market offering.  We have a world-class channels organization, inside-sales organization, a field sales organization, and a professional service organization, as well as a pre-sales group.

What does the recent A&P Consulting acquisition add?
A&P gives us a powerful technology for harvesting operational data, which we are calling “erwin Collector.” Collector helps our customers capture a wide variety of enterprise data, including process documentation, organizational data, location, application and technology information, project or program information or connect to any source with a RESTful API; interact in both real time or via scheduled updates with target sources; and harvest and return governance data in a variety of formats such as BPEL, XPDL, and XML. In addition, A&P has consulting expertise in very relevant areas, including energy, financial services, infrastructure, retail and telecom in addition to the government sector—which will help us guide our customers on their Data Governance 2.0 journeys.

Why is erwin rebranding itself as “the data governance company”?
Our mission has always been to help customers use their data effectively and, after 30-plus years working with the world’s most discerning brands, we are continuing to evolve to meet industry and customer needs. When we established erwin as its own entity, we knew the company had a tremendous foundation in data modeling on which to build. From the beginning, our vision was to transform erwin into a pre-eminent player in the data space and—with the acquisitions of Corso and Casewise, and now A&P Consulting, the hard work of our R&D team, and validation from customers—we now are laser-focused on data governance. We believe that the combination of data governance, enterprise architecture, business process, and data modeling is a powerful and differentiated value proposition that resonates with our strategic enterprise customers.

erwin uses the term “EDGE”—is it an acronym?
It’s an acronym for “Enterprise Data Governance Experience” and also the new moniker for our full portfolio of solutions.

What is important about data governance?
Data governance is becoming to data what ERP was to finance 15 years ago. The whole notion of being able to manage your data assets throughout your enterprise and have people such as data stewards and data analysts that can help manage and understand the meaning of words, the data assets themselves, and create standards from one database to another—that increases data security and data quality.

What is changing?
Companies need a holistic governance platform. Other data governance vendors view data governance as a data dictionary, a business glossary, a way to do data lineage. We believe you have to be able to take the different assets that have to touch and play with data—from your business processes to your data architecture to your data models—and bring that all together in one data platform. Of course, you will have a data dictionary and a business glossary, and you will be able to do data lineage but you can do more. If someone is going to make a change to the characters in a name, you want to understand how is that going to impact the 12 databases that all house that same name. Those are the kinds of
things that we have realized our customers are looking for.

How does the NoSQL data modeling solution launched in June 2017 fill a new market need?
DM NoSQL is all about our customers that work and operate in traditional database worlds and are now introducing NoSQL into their enterprises. They are doing it for a number of reasons, but primarily it is around being able to build and develop applications and go to market more quickly. The problem is that they don’t have the traditional data model to go along with it. Customers need to be able to manage NoSQL as well as relational databases. We decided to go first with MongoDB which is the leader in the NoSQL space, and we created our first NoSQL product built, once again, on the data foundation platform provided by the Corso technology.

What are the key concerns or trends that you see for 2018?
GDPR, which will go into effect in May 2018, is driving an increased sense of awareness of data. All it will take is one company getting fined. The second issue relates to the sheer amount of data that is being created. The amount of data that is being created today is massive but less than 1% is actually being used. When we speak to companies, they are focused on building and developing applications. They need data to be at the heart of those applications, and to ensure that it is good quality, usable data. All of these large enterprises are becoming IT companies. Some banks have larger development teams than any software company I have ever worked for.

In 3 years, if all goes according to plan, what will be different?
In 3 years, my expectation is that most large enterprises will adopt a data governance platform and will have formal data governance processes and procedures within their companies. And, if they are using 1% of their data today, I believe that they will be using 25-30% of their data, and also getting rid of the bad data, and being much smarter about how they work with their customers. Data drives better business decisions. They will be able to build smarter applications, use AI and BI more effectively to help customers, and there are going to be all kinds of other benefits added in from AR/VR, as well. You will see smarter, better business applications.

Interview conducted, condensed, and edited by Joyce Wells.


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