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Brett Hansen, Semarchy: “the key to successful data initiatives is to focus on a specific business outcome”

Data is rapidly becoming one of the most important business assets, but not every organization has the means necessary to extract valuable insight from vast amounts of information.

There is so much business data these days, that it is no surprise that companies often get overwhelmed. With different types and sources of data available, organizations not only struggle to gain valuable information but also fail to realize that handling such large amounts of data requires more robust security measures than just antivirus software.

To discuss the importance of data management, we caught up with Brett Hansen, Chief Marketing Officer at master data management software company Semarchy – which helps organizations manage, analyze and enrich their vast amounts of data.

Tell us the story behind Semarchy. What has the journey been like since your launch in 2011?

Semarchy was founded in Lyon, France by Sala Kamel, a long-time data architect with big aspirations for the future. The organization grew quickly in the European market, partnering with leading companies such as Total, Credit Agricole, and Elsevier. Semarchy’s growth was fueled by these companies’ tremendous market success. In 2020, Semarchy was purchased by Providence Strategic Growth (PSG), a Boston-based private equity company that moved the company's headquarters to Phoenix. TH Herbert, who was serving as the company’s COO, was promoted to CEO.

PSG’s investment has accelerated Semarchy’s product growth and go-to-market strategy. In the fall of 2021, the team acquired a data integration company called Stambia, also previously based in Lyon and a perfect fit for Semarchy. Stambia is able to provide efficient and rapid data integration capabilities that complement Semarchy’s existing MDM capabilities.

From a go-to-market perspective, the largest investment has been in growing a presence in the United States. Semarchy is a Gartner MDM Magic Quadrant “Leader” designation four years consecutively. With new sales and marketing resources, Semarchy is experiencing exponential growth and delighting US customers such as Bose, Chipotle, and Red Wing Shoes, to name a few.

Can you introduce us to your platform? What are its key features?

Semarchy’s unified data platform enables organizations to quickly integrate critical information scattered across applications with a single platform to discover, integrate, manage, enrich, and govern data. By providing a modular, yet unified breadth of capabilities, organizations can focus on targeted initiatives that deliver rapid business objectives and provide the ability to seamlessly expand or scale.

There are three capabilities that make Semarchy different and allow our customers to rapidly generate business value. First, automation allows customers to rapidly deliver tailor-made, data-rich applications. Competitor offerings often include templates that inevitably require customization resulting in perpetual coding exercises. Semarchy’s automation engine simplifies the process by delivering solutions specific to business requirements.

Second, business-centric interfaces allow rapid creation and adoption of data-rich applications. This expedites delivery and enables business users to be more intimately involved, increasing the likelihood of successful business outcomes.

Finally, Semarchy capabilities are agnostic. Extensible and open architecture supports on-premise, cloud, hybrid, and multi-cloud environments, allowing customers to implement solutions best for them.

The solution is unique in its ability to deliver rapid value, effectively support business users, efficiently adapt and scale to changing requirements, and lower the total cost of ownership through automation and reusable assets. This is why Semarchy is consistently the highest-rated master data management vendor on Gartner Peer Index.

In your opinion, what are some of the challenging issues companies run into during their digital transformation process?

Customers frequently seek Semarchy following failed digital transformation efforts to leverage data. The reasons for a failure are often complex and may include: all-encompassing data projects with lengthy architectural design efforts, complex requirement documentation, and inflexible implementation. The result is expensive efforts that ultimately do not solve the business needs and/or are unable to evolve as the requirements evolve.

How did the recent global events affect your field of work? Were there any new challenges you had to adapt to?

Organizations are facing a critical shortage of skilled developers. Recent global events have exacerbated the skill shortage by removing a significant number of developers from the market. Semarchy’s automation engine dramatically reduces development requirements. Customers using Semarchy integration saw a 30% gain in productivity when compared to traditional ETL options.

What are some of the worst mistakes companies make when handling large amounts of data?

It would be seeking a comprehensive, ideal approach to meeting the business data requirements. Today all aspects of the business are seeking insights from data. This creates a myriad of requirements that will not be satisfied by utilizing monolithic approaches of legacy solutions. Customers need to focus on meeting business requirements with pragmatic governance and management that delivers precisely on initiative objectives.

What tips would you give to companies looking to get more value from their data?

Start with a specific business outcome. For example, it could be a 360-degree view of customers, mapping a supply chain, or analyzing logistic location information. Then quickly deliver business value and look to expand to other related business domains.

80% of Semarchy customers achieve a functioning solution delivering business value in less than two weeks, and two-thirds of them have expanded to multiple use cases.

Why do you think companies often hesitate to try out new and innovative solutions that would enhance their business operations?

What we hear from customers that are reluctant to embark on data initiatives is that they have had too many previous failures that were costly and turned demoralizing. The reason behind the failure is often that they were attempting projects with limitless scopes using monolithic, inflexible tools. The key to successful data initiatives is to focus on a specific business outcome vs. seeking comprehensive data governance efforts.

Besides quality data management solutions, what other tools or practices do you think are essential for businesses?

Today’s organizations have data everywhere – on-site, cloud, data lakes, data warehouses, databases, etc. And data itself includes a variety of types: structured, unstructured, batch, streaming, etc. Fully capitalizing on data requires access to all these different data sources. Having agnostic, agile data integration capabilities is essential. The solution not only needs to be able to support a myriad of data sources and types, but it also needs to have the agility to evolve as the business changes.

And finally, what’s next for Semarchy?

Semarchy will continue its current course of delighting customers by quickly delivering impactful data projects. We look to continue our geographic expansion with continued growth in the US and expansion into the Asia Pacific and Latin American markets.

From a technology perspective, we are seeing significant interest from customers to explore Snowflake capabilities. Already a leader in Snowflake integration, we will be bringing new capabilities to market that will further streamline data migration, and offer seamless support for hybrid and multi-cloud environments.

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