REVIEWER: Tim Leonard, chief technology officer and vice president, Information Technology, U.S. Xpress.
BACKGROUND: U.S Xpress is the third-largest privately owned truckload carrier with more than 9,200 trucks and 21,000 trailers nationwide. The Tennessee-based business employs 8,000 staff.
PLATFORM: Informatica Data Quality in conjunction with a DriverTech in-cab reporting system and iPads.
PROBLEM SOLVED: We wanted to implement a data quality strategy that would address weakness in our business intelligence platform that were preventing the ability to make rapid decisions due to data that was in disarray. An immediate goal of the data quality implementation was to help the company reduce gas consumption and costs resulting from truck idling time. Engine idle time, which is the time that the engine is running but the truck is sitting, costs the company more than $2.00 for each excess hour. When this cost is extended to the thousands of trucks and tractors idling for hours each day, the costs are significant. U.S Xpress had implemented a system that recorded every aspect of a truck's movement, but because the associated location data was not verifiable, it was impossible to reduce idling time. We chose Informatica to create a new, unified data quality component. Specifically, we used Informatica Data Quality to standardize data across 9,200 trucks as well as other tools to increase the accuracy and reliability of the data. An operational dashboard was then created, pulling in 900 data elements from the trucks through the Informatica tool suite.
PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY: The Informatica Data Quality component standardizes common elements relating to the trucks. Informatica Identity Match uses prebuilt rules to increase data accuracy and accelerate implementation. Informatica Data Explorer profiles, discovers and maps any data record from any source. In just weeks, armed with this new visibility into how much time drivers were idling, U.S. Xpress dramatically reduced vehicle idle time, ultimately saving the company $6 million annually across its fleet of trucks. Another $1.2 million was saved using the data profiling element of the platform to enhance truck maintenance system data quality, which had the effect of freeing up numerous staffers for other tasks. We should note that the benefits extend beyond these results because of how the program is empowering "the business" to take charge of ongoing data quality and thus the ability to use data as it ought to be used.
STRENGTHS: It provides a robust foundation as an enterprise-wide tool, enabling a unified and reusable data quality environment with data quality, data matching and data profiling components working in concert with each other.
WEAKNESSES: The depth of the product's functionality requires an investment of time and resources to set up and maintain that may not be justifiable for smaller projects.
SELECTION CRITERIA: We needed a data quality partner that could match the data needs of both the trucking industry and a company like U.S. Xpress, which has multiple business units and data at various quality levels at different hierarchies. The partner had to be able to dynamically build hierarchical data structures for us, and Informatica presented the best technology and capabilities.
DELIVERABLES: The product's primary output is standardized and cleansed data. Secondary deliverables include metadata about job execution and the rules used to transform the data.
VENDOR SUPPORT: The vendor's support staff is sizable and accessible via phone, email and Web. Responses are timely, and where appropriate, the support team provides phone or Web-based hands-on interaction to troubleshoot ongoing issues.
DOCUMENTATION: The documentation is adequate, given the breadth of functionality and platforms that are supported. Technically adept users should be able to use the product out of the box, but it is a complex tool so a certain level of training or guidance is advisable. The vendor's support website provides an extensive knowledgebase with access to documentation and community discussion boards.
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