BACKGROUND: Paladyne Corp. provides software and services that extract, cleanse and load data into data marts and data warehouses. Paladyne's solutions address key challenges in data warehousing today ­ long implementation cycles, poor customer identification, meta data conflicts among multiple source systems and the lack of consistent data quality.

PLATFORMS: CODE- 1 Plus and Merge/Purge Plus run on an IBM Netfinity with two 450 MHz Pentium II processors and 256MB RAM running Windows NT server.

PROBLEM SOLVED: E-commerce is driving the transition from a product/service-centric business model toward a customer-centric business model. Data warehousing and Web-enabled decision support infrastructures are being embraced by IT organizations and business users around the world. While the strategic value and ROI of data warehousing are beyond doubt, the implementation cycle of the warehouse or data mart is notoriously long, expensive and often difficult. Key challenges include integration of data from diverse systems and operating platforms (particularly legacy systems), customer identification and data cleansing.

PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY: Paladyne uses CODE-1 Plus and Merge/Purge Plus to help cleanse and identify customers at the individual level and household level. CODE-1 Plus standardizes and fixes addresses according to the USPS standards, which greatly increases internal and external match rates on customer information. We then use the standardized addresses as input to Merge/Purge Plus to identify duplicate customer records.

STRENGTHS: CODE-1 Plus and Merge/Purge Plus used together provide a robust solution for identifying and grouping customer name and addresses. CODE- 1 Plus can be used in direct mail applications, database builds and data cleansing. This versatility is provided via callable modules, standard APIs and its parameter-driven approach. Merge/Purge Plus is configurable, and its strengths include fuzzy match capabilities, an effective reporting structure that provides statistics on unique and duplicate records and a parse engine that has standalone use and is advantageous for debugging.

WEAKNESSES: CODE-1 Plus and Merge/Purge Plus work only with flat files. While CODE-1Plus provides an exit routine to plug in custom code to perform input and output operations, the products lack tight integration with a database. Product integration within Group 1's own products is lacking. For example, the parameters to define a file layout are different between products making it difficult to share parameters that define the same file.

SELECTION CRITERIA: CODE-1 Plus and Merge/Purge Plus were selected due to their flexibility in specifying parameters, enabling greater control over the output. The option to run in a batch mode or call via an API further enhanced the flexibility of CODE-1 Plus facilitating its integration into a data cleansing application. Above all, it was important that these tools run on multiple platforms, including IBM's OS/390.

DELIVERABLES: Once customers have been standardized in CODE-1 Plus, they are fed into Merge/Purge Plus to identify households and duplicates. The duplicate customers are resolved by applying customized logic that assembles the duplicate customers into a single "best-view" of the customer. Once we have this clean customer record, we then apply industry-specific business logic to the fields linked to the captured customers and anchor the data to the clean customer to provide a single view of the customer.

VENDOR SUPPORT: Group 1 classes are very well presented and instructors are knowledgeable about the subject matter. In addition, practical experiences are presented that provide valuable insight and context in which to apply the product. I would suggest going to a few Group 1 classes whether you are a newbie or an old hand. Product updates and information are presented on a regular basis via e-mail and fax. Product installation has been a breeze. At times, technical support has not closed the loop on open calls, but the situation is usually remedied quickly with a follow- up phone call.

DOCUMENTATION: The CODE-1 Plus and the Merge/Purge Plus documentation delivered with the products is titled "User's Guide," but it is much more. The concepts section describes why you would want to use the products, going as far as describing the USPS. The overview section describes steps in how to set up a job. Examples range from beginner to advanced. The rest of the manual is saved for extensive coverage of the parameters used with the product. On-line documentation is also available on the Group 1 Web site for paying customers.

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