CATEGORY: Data Quality

REVIEWER: Tom O'Shea, IT manager for Informatics, Ltd.

BACKGROUND: Founded in 1986, Informatics, Inc. has grown into three separate divisions: System ID Warehouse, which provides a complete line of bar code, point of sale and inventory management solutions through its catalog and online store; System 3X Warehouse, which specializes in providing connectivity solutions and network services for System 34/36/38 and AS400/iSeries midrange servers through its catalog and online store; and Wasp Bar Code Technologies, a bar code solutions development company which manufactures a professional line of bar code business products.

PLATFORMS: Dell PowerEdge Server, Windows NT 4.0.

PROBLEM SOLVED: Informatics sought an affordable and easy-to- use software solution that would eliminate the time and expense associated with outsourcing our prospecting list management and consolidation. We wanted a solution that would also seamlessly integrate data quality functions into the real-time, concurrent user Internet, call center CRM and data warehouse applications. In order to build our comprehensive prospect database, we purchase prospect names from multiple sources in a variety of file formats. These are then combined to form targeted mailing lists. In order to eliminate a potentially large number of duplicates from this list, Informatics runs the prospect lists against the company's existing database of nearly 7 million customers and prospects. In addition, Informatics is constantly adding names from the company's five e-commerce Web sites and the call center CRM application. Previously, Informatics outsourced the management and consolidation of names, a process that was very expensive. DataFlux has enabled us to bring this process in house and significantly reduce the time and expense involved in maintaining a high level of data quality.

PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY: We recently completed our first in-house list processing for a prospecting piece, which enabled us to eliminate the expense of our list consolidator. We had 750,000 names that we brought in house as a text file, imported via the ODBC link and ran through Blue Fusion SDK from DataFlux. On the first use, Blue Fusion eliminated more than 300,000 incorrect and duplicate names. Using Blue Fusion SDK gives us greater control over our data, while helping us save a lot of money in postage and printing expenses.

STRENGTHS: Informatics was looking for a software solution that was easy to use and could be easily integrated into our existing applications by our in-house personnel. Blue Fusion SDK has been extremely simple to use and flexible in the way we want to use it. In addition, Blue Fusion SDK possesses powerful match-code generation algorithms. We expect Blue Fusion SDK to more than pay for itself this year by enabling us to manage our customer and prospect data internally.

WEAKNESSES: The Address Verify module could not be called directly as a DLL from the Internet site, and the time required to create the object and initialize the USPS database was too long for real-time address record verification. The end solution was to create the Verify object as an EXE file and make the call from the Internet sites via a COM. This proved to be a workable solution, and the response time is now acceptable for our real-time applications.

SELECTION CRITERIA:Our goal was to seamlessly integrate our Web sites, our call center CRM application and our data warehouse to manage all of our previously outsourced data management and list consolidation activities internally. During our evaluation process, we looked closely at a number of potential solutions, and Blue Fusion SDK from DataFlux gave us all of the functionality and flexibility we were looking for at a very reasonable price.

DELIVERABLES: DataFlux's Blue Fusion SDK solution provides a tool that enables you to manage and enhance the data quality of large databases by verifying and standardizing name and address data records, assigning unique match codes for data records and providing CASS certified mailing list and USPS form 3553.

VENDOR SUPPORT:During the process of evaluating potential solutions, DataFlux provided us with copies of both their dfPower Studio end-user software as well as Blue Fusion SDK to try both solutions on our own data in our environment. We were given access to technical support personnel, as well as the developers of the DataFlux software. Whenever we asked a question or made a request, we were met with quick, helpful responses from the customer support center.

DOCUMENTATION: Although the documentation is adequate, we find that it does not go into enough depth on several of the features (e.g., what the match-code sensitivity settings do and the best way to utilize the features); however, the answers are never more than a phone call away.

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