Ascential IBM WebSphere QualityStage
REVIEWER: Mannie Goldberg, director for data resource management for NSTAR Electric & Gas.BACKGROUND: As Massachusetts' largest investor-owned electric and gas utility, NSTAR has been transmitting and delivering electricity and natural gas for more than 100 years. NSTAR serves nearly 1.4 million residential and business customers in more than 100 eastern Massachusetts communities. NSTAR's regulated subsidiaries have more than 3,200 employees.

PLATFORMS: The hardware is a 2x2.4 GHz windows server with 4GB of memory. This server houses IBM WebSphere QualityStage and IBM WebSphere DataStage, part of the IBM WebSphere Integration Suite and an Oracle9i instance.

PROBLEM SOLVED: NSTAR wanted to reduce the duration of power outages and meet customers' increasing expectations for information during power outages. Meeting these goals required NSTAR to link geographic information about customer sites with customer account information in their customer information system. With this link, NSTAR dispatchers can more easily identify customers affected by a power outage through a graphical interface based on graphic information systems (GIS) technology. Call center representatives and automated voice response systems can then link customers with information on outages in their areas. The result is that customers get better current information. In addition to better meeting customer expectations, NSTAR now has a trusted source of information about customer sites.

PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY: IBM WebSphere QualityStage is the foundation of linking NSTAR's geographic data and customer account data. IBM WebSphere QualityStage helped NSTAR overcome challenges to data quality such as duplicate data, lack of standardization, missing values and absence of unique identifiers. With IBM WebSphere QualityStage, customer location information is transformed into reference data. As a result, the solution has helped NSTAR improve customer satisfaction levels by generating rapid service outage analyses. In addition, the faster identification of outage areas has significantly decreased operational costs and improved operational efficiency.

STRENGTHS: The product is very flexible because of the type of matching technology employed. Its built-in objects and tables and reusable modules can be used to define custom processes such as ours where we needed to work with data other than standard names and addresses. The availability of the GeoLocator and Reverse GeoLocator modules for augmenting data with geographic coordinates and ZIP codes was also important to our application. The reporting capabilities provide metrics that yield business intelligence about the data and help tune the application and provide quality assurance. It's relatively easy to use in comparison with other products we looked at.

WEAKNESSES: With the versions of IBM WebSphere QualityStage and IBM WebSphere DataStage that we implemented, we struggled with the batch integration of the various Ascential products, but we completed the integration on schedule with support from Ascential Software services team.  

SELECTION CRITERIA: We conducted an on-site evaluation with Ascential Software and other market leading providers. The evaluation team unanimously selected Ascential because of the solution's ease of use, its deployment capabilities and the opportunity for easy knowledge transfer.

DELIVERABLES: Using IBM WebSphere QualityStage, we prepare data for use in our outage management system, our automated meter reading systems and our electric distribution system modeling tools.

VENDOR SUPPORT: Ascential Software has been a partner from start to finish and has given us world-class software support. It is rare for us to have a production problem related to the software, but when that does happen, Ascential Software assigns our case to one specific individual to see the problem through to resolution.

DOCUMENTATION: With enough time, it would be possible to learn enough from the documentation to run the product. However, given our product schedule and the complexity and uniqueness of our application, we opted for on-site training provided by Ascential Software as well as a consultant from Ascential Software on-site during the first implementation. If we were working with typical marketing list data, we could probably have done it with less consulting.

IBM WebSphere QualityStage
Ascential Software Corporation
50 Washington Street
Westboro, MA 01581

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