Friday, December 20, 2013

ERwin 9.5 shines - partnering with users benefits CA solutions

CA announced the latest version of ERwin at its fourth on-line ERworld 2013 event held November 12-14th. Presentations and announcements can be viewed[1] for free online at: is  worth spending some time there to hear from actual users and IT professionals about how they have benefitted from and leveraged ERwin capabilities.

This blog discusses how CA leveraged customers and increased interaction with them to improve access to the product and explain its value to a growing number and variety of potential users. But first, a short digression about product management tactics that, properly implemented, benefit both customer and vendor.

One consistently beneficial tactic is ‘listen to and understand what the customer is trying to do’. Correct execution requires more insight and effort than what you would first think. What the customer identifies as the solution they want isn’t necessarily what is needed to accomplish what they want.  In that, it is akin to the hoary tactic about ‘partnering’ with your vendor, solution provider, etc. Both ideas have a long history of verbose commitment. ‘Partnering as a strategy’ has been asserted since I was a young Software Product Manager. It had a dubious reputation even then. However, as we’ve remarked before, both are enjoying renewed and enhanced popularity. The good news is that in many cases those embracing these tactics are implementing in all the right ways.

This applies to CA and the latest release of its Data Modeling solution, ERwin 9.5, as a clear example of how both of these maxims are enjoying renewed support and successful implementation. The payoff is evident for both the vendor community and users. For ERwin, this is evident in new features, messaging and marketing. Let’s see what the impact of closer collaboration and partnering with users has done for CA ERwin.

The enhancements in Release 9.5 are in response to the ‘Information Overload’ experienced, not simply by IT, but all professionals. The list of problems themselves is well known, i.e. too much data, too many platforms, diverse sources and formats of data, etc. In addition, it is difficult to extract insightful information from the data; typically that requires not just sophisticated tools but equally educated, scarce professionals. Compounding the problem today, is the accessibility of all this data to users with diverse responsibilities who NEED data-based insights, but lack the ability with analytics.

Many who could profitably use ERwin’s data modeling didn’t recognize what it could do for them or had only a limited knowledge of its capabilities. For example, even among its users, ERwin’s most frequently identified competitor was VISIO, followed by Excel and PowerPoint, all products with far less functionality.

CA now presents ERwin in a way that is understandable to business users. They describe what ERwin does and can do with explicit examples that demonstrate ERwin providing insights into the data to solve business problems.

For example, Facebook wanted to know how many unique users were active at any one time. They had lots of data about logins, active links, etc. that told them from a technical viewpoint about connections. They had no way to define a business user (i.e. unique – as a single entity, not personally). ERwin, by providing insight into the data and its sources, gave Facebook the insight and opportunity, as well as the capability to build a business-relevant model of a user.

Data modeling with ERwin sounds complex and difficult. The ability to provide a centralized business-based view of where the data comes from and resides, a single, consistent view of data relationships and locations is more understandable and makes ERwin a helpful asset. The CA ERwin Web Portal provides an interface that is accessible and understandable across enterprise roles and user teams. It allows data visibility and sharing of analysis and scenarios. It is a key differentiator, made stronger by the three new elements in ERwin 9.5:

  • ERwin Report designer – fully configurable way that makes it easier to share data and resulting insights across enterprise business boundaries;
  • Big Data bridges – access through ERwin’s graphic interface to and integration with multiple Big Data sources and platforms Apache Hadoop adds information sources for business users;
  • Teradata certification -  platform for Data Warehousing projects that supports a key CA technology alliance partner and customer, adds to existing Oracle, DB2, SQL Azure support.

There is much more to ERwin, we recommend that enterprise user, interested in getting the most from their data, take a look at this product.

It requires active listening, interaction, and close attention to clearly understand what the client or customer is trying to accomplish, the problem they want solved or the need to be filled. I’ve learned not to jump too quickly to accept what they ask for as the solution needed. Understanding their goals assures that what we deliver, whether it is advice, support, research, analysis or services, is most effective for and useful to that client.

The point of all this is that vendors and users are becoming more closely linked. The consumerization of IT and penetration of social media provide more opportunities for interaction and collaboration that benefits both. The partnership between vendors, channel and technology partners and the consumer provide a rich ground for cooperative efforts that will benefit all three. In the case of CA Technologies and ERwin 9.5, the results are evident in product messaging that makes it easier to recognize by a larger set of potential users who need it. Additionally, the new product capabilities make it both easier to use and more effective in application for its users.

Overall, we are pleased to see productive collaboration between vendors and customers. It is both highly welcome and much needed.

[1] Available until February13, 2014