REVIEWER: Tony Ellis, Head of Information Technology Unit, London Borough of Brent and Chair of Data Connects.
BACKGROUND: The London Borough of Brent has a population of circa 300,000 people, with the most diverse racial makeup in the U.K. Situated in northwest London, the boroughs territory includes some areas of great deprivation and social exclusion as well as Wembley and the National Stadium. Brent provides a wide range of services to the community, including library, home care, electoral services, home adaptations and meals on wheels. It is also responsible for collecting council tax from residents and businesses.
PLATFORMS: We run Datanomics dn:Director on a virtual server with 2 Xeon Processors and 4GB RAM running Windows Server 2003.
PROBLEM SOLVED: We have nine back-office systems to support the different services and duties of the council, but we were collecting data separately in each of these systems and there was no link between a customer record on one system and another. We had, for instance, 21 different data inputs for contact details and 49 inputs of personal details. This means that we might have details of a clients disability stored on the adult care system, but that critical information could be missing from the housing and benefits systems. In 2007, we set a new five-year strategy for ICT at Brent to become a centre of excellence in the management of information and data. The creation of a client index system with a master customer database holding one view of our customers at its center has been vital to the success of this initiative.
PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY: dn:Director is used to discover data deficiencies and anomalies by profiling and auditing the data in our back-office systems. We also use dn:Director to improve the quality of key elements of data such as address, gender, email address and phone numbers and then integrate the data with the Initiate Identity Hub, which provides the matching engine at the heart of the Client Index.
STRENGTHS: dn:Director is incredibly easy to use. With minimal training, our data quality team was able to use it to discover invalid and poor quality data and then improve the quality by setting business rules. The user interface provides us with a simple data flow where we can drag and configure new functions with just a few mouse clicks. Datanomic provides a library of standard functions, which are very flexible and can be connected together to meet our specific requirements. We also found the Customer Data Toolkit very useful. This is an extension pack that Datanomic provides to deal with cleansing and matching individual and company data including names, addresses, emails and telephone numbers. These rules work very well out-of-the-box and require little or no configuration. dn:Director is also simple to integrate with other technologies. In our case, we use it with Experian QAS and Initiate Identity Hub.
WEAKNESSES: Weve only found small things. For instance, when were developing a process with sample data, it would be good if the icon indicated this in some way. Another weakness is the log file only records scheduled jobs when they complete it would be good if they created an entry when jobs started, also.
SELECTION CRITERIA: We selected Datanomic on the technical strength of its performance and dn:Directors ease of use when compared to other products available. As part of our proof of concept, we gave them 100,000 records directly from the client index, and the dn:Director system provided a complete breakdown of invalid or poor quality data fields in just a matter of minutes.
DELIVERABLES: Data quality is a critical issue for us in terms of compliance with data protection requirements, but the improved data quality that dn:Director has delivered also enables better customer service provision. We also use dn:Directors reporting metrics and Web-based dashboard to report data quality improvements to Brents senior management across all the councils departments.
VENDOR SUPPORT: Datanomic has provided us with excellent support during the development and implementation of dn:Director. They have a small but knowledgeable and experienced team of consultants as well as a dedicated support team, if we need assistance. Brent Council likes to take a partnership approach with all of its suppliers, and we look forward to a long and fruitful relationship with Datanomic.
DOCUMENTATION: Datanomic provides context-sensitive online help with dn:Director. This provides helpful examples of how to configure and run processes. The manuals from our training course also provide a useful reference, and for the most part, we are self-sufficient, although we have discovered a couple of holes in the documentation that required us to call for support.
Datanomics dn:Director 7.1