REVIEWER: Greg Stam, senior vice president of Global Development for Cision.

BACKGROUND: Cision is a global provider of media research, distribution, monitoring and analysis services to the public relations industry and other communication professionals.

PLATFORMS: Windows XP and Windows 7.

PROBLEM SOLVED: The Cision Media Database is widely known as a comprehensive media research resource, with detailed information about almost 1 million media contacts. The database is updated on average 18,000 times each day. As a data broker, Cision gathers data, enriches it and sells that data through its online portal. Since the data is such fluid, dynamic research, we constantly look for ways to become more accurate and efficient. With a variety of different information sources – print media, social media, online or broadcast – we built unique point-to-point solutions to compile the data. To move forward, we needed to integrate records from new and existing legacy databases into a master data repository, enabling one version of the truth across the board. We wanted to tackle master data management, but the first step was improving the quality of our data. We chose DataFlux Data Quality Integration Server.

PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY: We are still scratching the surface of the product’s functionality. Our first foray was geocoding to enable radius searching. Then we utilized the data analysis functionality within DataFlux dfPower Studio for the mapping, conversion and data integration processes along with ETL integration. This provided administrators with the ability to move and create workflows for the data across various systems. We took this data out of a basic SQL scripting format and placed it in jobs created within the DataFlux environment, which quickly enables data movement through subsystems and facilitates better workflow management. Now, as soon data is received, it is immediately improved using DataFlux. With DataFlux, we are able to manage and standardize contact data, outlet data, North American and European data and media monitoring data (social media, blogs and tweets).

STRENGTHS: The data analysis functionality is very impressive, as it allows us to instantly take a data set and map it. The software is easy to use and doesn’t really require highly technical skills. You don’t need to be a computer scientist or programmer to use the application; for instance, people who are familiar with data content can build a custom module and use it as a “wrapper” on some of their SQL jobs. It’s a very dynamic and flexible solution.

WEAKNESSES: The custom module SQL wrappers mentioned above have some shortcomings in regard to how they’re built. There are some integration issues between these custom modules. We understand that this will be fully addressed in the next upgrade.

SELECTION CRITERIA: We worked with Gartner to create a short list of vendors. We spoke to several users of other data quality and data integration technologies. The feedback we received was that DataFlux was easier to use and more intuitive than other data quality tools, and that the intuitive aspect of the technology was a key aspect of our decision-making process.

DELIVERABLES: Using DataFlux, we have simplified the data environment and removed one-off integrations with various data providers. This has led to a more simplified architecture and production system, removing the potential for several points of failure. As discussed above, the use of DataFlux has led to cleaner, standardized and better managed data.

VENDOR SUPPORT: DataFlux has very good sales, customer and technical support, which have all been extremely helpful. The support staff has had a solution for us almost immediately whenever we have run into an issue. DataFlux provided a week of training to get us up to speed, and then we hired a DataFlux expert, which was also helpful. I think anytime that we’ve reached out to DataFlux, we’ve had a lot of folks very eager to help us. From the start, we had a great connection with the account manager, sales staff and customer support.

DOCUMENTATION: I have not heard any complaints about documentation. It is pretty intuitive, and customer support at DataFlux is always just a phone call away.

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