REVIEWER: Becki Wessel, manager, Market Intelligence for Cintas Corporation.

BACKGROUND: Headquartered in Cincinnati, Ohio, Cintas Corporation provides highly specialized services to businesses of all types throughout North America. Cintas designs, manufactures and implements corporate identity uniform programs and provides entrance mats, restroom cleaning and supplies, promotional products, first aid and safety products, fire protection services and document management services for approximately 800,000 businesses.

PLATFORMS: Microsoft Windows and Linux.

PROBLEM SOLVED: Cintas has seven business divisions sharing five different data source systems that run simultaneously. The company needed to reduce and/or eliminate data duplication and ensure the quality of customer data through clustering functionality and data matching. Cintas implemented DataFlux dfPower Studio and the DataFlux Integration Server to address the spread of customer data across these systems, with the goal of providing all business divisions access to much cleaner data that could support more successful customer relationships.

PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY: We have had a tremendously successful experience with DataFlux. The technology provides robust functionality to help standardize sets of data and create better data matches to reduce duplication. We were able to grow from the initial data deduplication efforts to a more ambitious goal: creating a single view of the customer for our front-end customer data integration (CDI) initiative. DataFlux helped ensure cleaner data on the back end, so it was a natural fit to power this customer-facing program and reconcile disparate data views.

STRENGTHS: The main strength of DataFlux technology is its sheer usability. DataFlux offers a product that appeals to varied users in the organization. Marketers find it easy to use, while its technological sophistication appeals to IT. New management trainees in the marketing department, who may have little or no technical/database experience, learn how to use the DataFlux technology in only a few weeks.

WEAKNESSES: The dichotomy of dfPower Studio is that although it’s easy to use, it’s nearly impossible to learn every aspect of the product. It’s difficult to incorporate all of its functionality into daily data management practices because the technology has so many applications. There’s an opportunity for DataFlux to enhance documentation and create better user guides.

SELECTION CRITERIA: Before deciding to expand the number of DataFlux implementations at Cintas, the business side provided evidence of the software’s capabilities compared against the existing data quality implementation within the data warehouse. Simultaneously, the IT side evaluated the efficiency of the product and the opportunity to decrease overall monthly batch processing time. In the quality of data cleansing and resulting matches, DataFlux produced better results. Following the evaluation, not only was DataFlux implemented for the data quality processing within the data warehouse, it was also implemented as a real-time processor for Cintas’ CDI efforts.

DELIVERABLES: With DataFlux, we have improved the clustering of our customers across all business divisions. We have also seen better quality when appending data from external (noncustomer) data sources. Coding Accuracy Support System (CASS) Certified records allow us to decrease costs when working with external vendors. Moving forward, we hope to use more of the profiling functionality to alert us of bad data so we can continue to improve our data quality from the point of entry.

VENDOR SUPPORT: Vendor support from DataFlux has been key. The services team was instrumental in new implementations, and we value their visits to our headquarters when we encounter challenges. The best part of working with DataFlux is the personal, small-company feel - like you’re their number-one customer. Because SAS is the parent company of DataFlux, we get the best of both worlds: DataFlux is small enough that we get personal, undivided attention, but they have a large enough reach that we always have access to service staff and ways to address large-scale issues. The DataFlux Web site, with updates from the community of experts and automated notifications of questions from other customers (from the customer portal) are added benefits.

DOCUMENTATION: The documentation that is available is very easy to understand, and the product itself is very intuitive - for both IT and the business side. Improved or expanded documentation would only make the product more self-sufficient.

DataFlux Integration Server and dfPower Studio
DataFlux Corporation
940 NW Cary Parkway
Suite 201
Cary, NC 27513
(919) 447-3000
http://www.dataflux.com/

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