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Informatica - The First Ten Years

  Executive Interview published in DM Review Magazine
May 2003 Issue
  By Jean Schauer

"Informatica was founded on the basic principle of helping organizations use data as a strategic asset for competitive advantage," states Gaurav Dhillon, president and CEO of Informatica Corporation. "We have been fortunate to have products that have consistently earned a reputation by customers of being the most innovative in the market because they solve very fundamental problems that persist in every organization - vast accumulated corporate data in disparate transactional systems with challenges in integrating, synthesizing and analyzing that data effectively. We have progressed from not just providing the industry's leading back-end data integration infrastructure, but also a modern, front-end BI [business intelligence] and analytics platform for the Internet generation. This combination is the Informatica magic - and that's what we want everyone to know."

Founded in 1993 and headquartered in Redwood City, California, data integration has always been Informatica's core area of expertise. Building on that strength, Informatica is now also a leading provider of end-to-end business analytics solutions - comprised of data integration, data warehousing and business intelligence software - that enable companies to monitor and manage the performance of key business operations. Informatica business analytics products span the entire "build-to-buy" spectrum, enabling Informatica customers to build their own best-of-breed data warehousing solutions or buy a prepackaged, fully extensible, business analytics solution. Currently, more than 1,700 companies around the world use Informatica data integration software to build and manage data warehouses.

Informatica offers products in three major categories. For data integration, Informatica offers Informatica PowerCenter, Informatica PowerCenterRT, Informatica PowerMart and Informatica PowerConnect. For analytics, the Informatica Warehouse includes four pre-built warehouses covering the following business areas: Customer Relationship Analytics, Financial Analytics, Human Resource Analytics and Supply Chain Analytics. Informatica PowerAnalyzer, based on a 100-percent Internet-centric architecture, is the company's business intelligence platform that quickly and easily provides ad hoc query and reporting, analysis and collaborative analytics via "out-of-the-box" dashboards or custom analytic applications.

"Informatica is uniquely positioned, and we're very excited about that. Nobody has as good a grip on the data management side of this business as we do," says Dhillon. "The market we serve is growing as people come to understand the value of a unified data integration and business analytics platform. I'm really passionate about technology because we know we can add so much value to a company. For a modest investment - we're not talking about $100 million or even $10 million here - look at the returns a company can gain from analytics, data warehousing and business intelligence. There's nothing like it! Some of our customers are getting a multimillion-dollar payback within six to nine months. In some cases, they're getting paybacks of more than $10 million from getting a better handle on their supply chain spend and better visibility of their customers," Dhillon adds.

When asked to share customer success stories, Dhillon responded quickly. "There are so many, but one that's very interesting is eBay. eBay has won a number of data warehousing awards using Informatica's technology as one of the foundational technologies in the initial construction - the systems management - of the data warehouse. Called Cosmos, this data warehouse is the underpinning for many of the decisions they make at that company. The nature of the eBay implementation is outstanding - using our front-end business intelligence technology, PowerAnalyzer, for the management dashboard to push reports out to a number of their financial and other users," states Dhillon, "and they have terabytes of data under management."

"One of the companies that bought our analytics in a more packaged form is Motorola. Motorola has a global reputation in three geographies - the U.S., Asia and Europe. They're using our products for various inventory analyses and other things they've done across Motorola. Motorola has received tens of millions of dollars of ROI on this implementation - many times the initial implementation cost. This is an integrated, meta data-driven analytic system that we put in place inside their company, and it is absolutely mission-critical. It is deployed globally with thousands of users," says Dhillon.

Gaurav Dhillon, Informatica president and CEO

"As these two customer examples illustrate, Informatica products provide great value in situations where there is a need for scalability and there are heterogeneous systems, lots of data to be managed and immense challenges," Dhillon emphasizes.

Dhillon attributes Informatica's success to the entire Informatica team. "We've got a fabulous team here. If I were to list my greatest accomplishment at Informatica, I would say that I have been fortunate to attract and retain great people. The culture of this firm is something I take personal responsibility for and take great pride in, but the accomplishments of Informatica are the accomplishments of the people. I think the most exciting moment in recent memory was when we added our one-thousandth customer approximately 18 months ago. That was a great day for Informatica. It confirmed that we're going to be around and that our products are built to last. That's very heartening to me, but it wasn't my accomplishment. It was the team here that did it," he proudly states.

"We've gone from being a small company with a small-company partnership feel to a true world-class company with more than 800 people, more than $200 million in revenue and more than 1,700 customers. And we don't count customers by "ship-to" addresses; we count customers by logos. One logo is one customer! Additionally, we have more than 4,000 data warehouses in production today. Nobody else in the industry has that - nobody! We also see that people who purchased our product in a prior life also purchase our product when they move into a new company. They wouldn't do that if they weren't delighted with Informatica's products, people and service. It is the satisfaction of Informatica customers that keeps our company strong," comments Dhillon.

Informatica Fact Table
Year Founded:
Publicly traded: INFA
Number of Employees: 838
Revenue: $195.4 million
Net Income: $2.8 million
Number of Customers: More than 1,711

The Multidimensional Aspects of Gaurav Dhillon
Last Book Read:
Seabiscuit - An American Legend by Laura Hillenbrand
Most Memorable Movie: Seven Samurai
Favorite Entertainer: Robin Williams
Most Entertaining Game: Soccer
Most Respected Politician: Rudy Giuliani
Dream Car: Toyota 4Runner
Perfect Vacation Spot: Chile
Most Admired Individual: Nelson Mandela
Favorite Sports Team: San Francisco 49ers
Hobby: Photography
Favorite Type of Music: Jazz
Favorite Food: Sushi
Favorite Beverage: Peet's Coffee, Sumatra

According to Dhillon, Informatica's success can be attributed to the focus the company has sustained for more than ten years. He explains, "We focus very much on making sure that we listen to our customers and that the next release that comes out is able to address the new requirements of our customers. We've got a very dominant position in the data integration market - we're the market leader. We were the first company to come out with an open, server-based architecure and the first company to come out with real-time. That track record, the long-lived nature of our business and our market leadership is very, very key to people who make choices. When our customers go into production, they don't have to worry about something changing in their environment and they don't have to worry about changes in their enterprise architecture when they move to real-time messaging across enterprises. In terms of the analytics marketplace, more than 70 percent of the hard work of a business analytics solution is in the back office. It is the hard work! It is getting the data, building the models, maintaining the models, having the capability to conduct root-cause analysis and having the ability to determine the attributes of data sets. Excel, browsers and BI tools don't have the capability to do that. Therefore, in the business analytics market, those customers who have heterogeneous environments and are looking for the ability to integrate multiple sets of enterprise applications, mainframes, other kinds of data feeds, e-business applications or new Java-based J2EE type of apps they might be building with IBM or BEA's app servers will do very well with our products! In fact, they will do very, very well because of the hard work we've done for them," comments Dhillon.

How did a young man from India become CEO of a tremendously successful global software company? Dhillon credits his parents - both university professors - and his life in India. "Having parents who were professors gave me a sense of curiosity, a sincerity of purpose and a desire to contribute to the world in a meaningful way. I also think that looking at the world from the perspective of a smaller, poorer country taught me humility," he explains.

After graduate school, Dhillon's first job was in southern California. He applied for and received a grant from the SBA to conduct research in object databases, and that's how Informatica began. Dhillon recalls, "At about the time I was thinking about taking the plunge to begin a company, I went on a skydiving trip and took a real leap of faith - 10,000 feet. Skydiving tests your belief in your team, and you must have faith in the system - that the parachute will work, that your instructor will be there, that the altimeter will give you the right reading so you'll pull the ripcord at the right time - and you have to have faith in yourself." When Dhillon took the entrepreneurial plunge and founded Informatica, he incorporated the valuable lessons he learned from skydiving. He explains, "We must have people who have faith in the team, faith in the systems and faith in themselves. That's what makes us successful."

Informatica's milestones and accomplishments are significant, and the company is poised to address future opportunities. "Informatica has provided a lot of value to its customers. We have a very happy, very successful install base, and that is the model in which we broaden the customer circle. We've always innovated and had technology leadership and that has translated into market leadership for the company. We provide the market-leading solution because we have more scale, more parallel processing, support more platforms, have richer meta data and superior data quality and a lot of other capabilities in our products. The longevity of the company rests on our customers' success. Informatica is approaching its 10-year anniversary, and we have a history of articulating a bold vision and shipping that vision in very high-quality steps along the way. We have maintained our focus for ten years, and that is a benefit to our customers. Our focus, intensity and passion result in the compounding refinement of our products for our customers," says Dhillon. "As I look to our next decade, we want everyone to know that Informatica is a company that has longevity, is built to last and is going to go from good to great," emphasizes Dhillon.


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Jean Schauer is editor in chief of DM Review magazine. She can be contacted at jean.schauer@sourcemedia.com.

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