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DataLever Removes Complexity from Disparate Data Files

  • July 01 2004, 1:00am EDT

REVIEWER: Mike van Thiel, chief technology officer for Xi Corporation, also known as Exoro Information, Inc.

BACKGROUND: Xi Corporation is a leading provider of political data services, headquartered in Salt Lake City, Utah. The company delivers high-quality information solutions to assist political campaigns, special interest groups and political parties to meet their political objectives. By providing actionable information and a variety of solutions, Xi is able to move beyond the typical list services provided by other companies and meet all our clients' data and information needs.

PLATFORMS: Xi Corporation runs DataLever's software on Windows 2003 servers and Windows XP workstations.

PROBLEM SOLVED: One of the services our clients need in this hotly contested election year is the ability to quickly, effectively and accurately transform their data into strategic information for use in their campaigns. Campaigns have many lists of important contacts in varying formats and different degrees of accuracy. What they need is one standardized, corrected master list, appended with information from various political data sources and accurately plotted geographically into the different political voting districts. DataLever enables us to rapidly deliver high-quality strategic information.

PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY: By combining our vast set of political data with DataLever's unique set of features, we have been able to provide our clients with the information they need to make strategic decisions. Using DataLever's intuitive interface, we are able to standardize almost any file structure into a common format. We parse name data, append gender information, CASS certify addresses, append latitude and longitude coordinates, and use DataLever's point in polygon spatial component to place voters into the correct political districts. After this, we are able to match records to our voter information and append voting history, party affiliation and other important political data. All this was implemented into an easy to use DataLever "macro" that can be used multiple times and placed within any other DataLever job. The ability to create reusable components creates competitive advantage and significantly lowers costs for us. Before we chose DataLever, we reviewed and tried a variety of solutions ranging from large ETL packages to smaller name matching, geocoding and address certification libraries. Although all tools had the capabilities to solve some of our needs, none of them offered all the tools, and none of them were as easy to use, fast and powerful as DataLever.

STRENGTHS: DataLever's parsing, matching and transformation components take the complexity out of dealing with a never-ending supply of disparate data files, and the very fast throughput of records is truly remarkable. The speed at which DataLever processes records is constantly increasing. An example of this is the latest generation CASS certification tool, which is twice as fast as the previous version, making it capable of processing more than 7 million records per hour on a single processor. Besides these great advantages, DataLever has proven that they can get to market very fast with new features, which are released at regular intervals. Even with the constantly improved feature set, the quality of the product remains stable. Their implementation cycles are shorter than average and, unlike most players in the market, they respond quickly to customer needs. Because of the increased productivity resulting from their innovations, we have been able to increase our margins, improve profitability and serve a large audience.

WEAKNESSES: DataLever's strength in creating complex jobs and macros creates a need for easier testing and verification of business rule changes using smaller batches. It is not always easy to test the impact of a small change without running it through a large job and doing our own custom test. An ability to look at deltas between different runs of business rules would increase the confidence that the job still performs its primary function and allow a DataLever developer to easily see the impact of a change.

SELECTION CRITERIA: The solution we were looking for needed to support all facets of high data quality including data manipulation, address standardization, geocoding, spatial analyses, complex record matching and householding. DataLever was the only company to offer all these options in one easy-to-use tool with exceptionally high quality.

DELIVERABLES: The main deliverables were the DataLever client software, the name parser, the record matcher, the CASS certification software and the geocoding engine.

VENDOR SUPPORT: DataLever continues to provide us with excellent support and is very responsive to any special needs we might have.

DOCUMENTATION: The documentation is extensive and covers everything from simple data manipulations to complex low-level programming.

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