REVIEWER: Enoch Moeller, CIO of Quaero Corporation.
BACKGROUND: Quaero helps companies maximize their customer profitability through its marketing and technology services with development of analytic CRM road maps, customer strategy, marketing process and organizational redesign, rapid data mart development, customer analytics and campaign management. Quaero SpringBoard provides an outsourced knowledge-driven marketing service for its clients. The SpringBoard platform provides clients access to a full suite of best-of-breed enterprise class tools, from campaign management to OLAP reporting, without having to build an extensive solution in house.
PLATFORMS: Melissa Data Address Object is integrated into stored procedures running on SQL Server 2000 on Windows 2000 Server. The hardware platform consists of Dell servers with Intel processors.
PROBLEM SOLVED: As part of the implementation for one of our Quaero SpringBoard clients, we were able to receive inbound files from six different vendors that serviced different contact channels for the client (call center, Web, business reply card, etc.). The name and address information was inconsistent across the various files, and the quality of the data was questionable in some instances. A primary need was to correct, clean and standardize all address information so the client could be more confident in the data that was to be stored in the marketing database that we were designing. The second issue was to be able to deduplicate individuals that may come in from various channels but were lacking an identification number or code. This required the creation of a "deduplication key" so that individuals could be tied together.
PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY: The SpringBoard team developed an extensive address cleansing/parsing/deduplication process that is run for every address that comes into the database. This process is based on stored procedures that use the COM object functions in SQL Server to call the Melissa Data Address Object. The standardization function of Address Object was an ideal solution for assuring the correctness and completeness of the address information that we were to store in the database. We were able to use the address parsing function of Address Object to provide the address components necessary to create a dupekey to identify unique individuals. When combined with name elements, we were able to create a dupekey algorithm that enables us to identify contacts at both the individual and household levels.
STRENGTHS: Address Object provides an extensive selection of data enhancements (appending county, congressional district, etc.) as part of the standardization routine. This is valuable for analytical modeling of customer demographics. The speed of Address Object is excellent, which is important given the volume of data coming in daily and the time frame in which it must be processed. The tool is implemented as an object with a common interface, giving us the flexibility to reference the tool from a multitude of applications.
WEAKNESSES: Using the tool from SQL Server is a bit clumsy. Hopefully Melissa Data will offer extended stored procedures in the future for tighter integration with SQL Server-based applications.
SELECTION CRITERIA: Cost was a major factor in our decision. We were unable to find another tool that offered the same features and capabilities for a price even close to that of Address Object. Flexibility and accuracy were also important, and Address Object offered both. It is critical that the address information is up to date, and the frequent data updates from Melissa Data ensure this.
DELIVERABLES: We pass the standard address components to the interface of Address Object (street address, city, state, ZIP). In return, we receive a standardized and parsed version of the address along with appended geographic information. This includes filling in missing information. For example, if no ZIP code is passed but the address can be verified, the ZIP will be filled in by Address Object. Address Object also returns error codes indicating what caused a verification failure. With little effort, it is possible to produce a complete matrix of ZIP to city to state alignment.
VENDOR SUPPORT: The technical support staff is knowledgeable and friendly. When we asked a question that they were unable to answer, the issue was promptly escalated to a developer who reviewed our code and provided examples to resolve our problem. Melissa Data provides bimonthly updates of the product that include database refreshes and product enhancements.
DOCUMENTATION: The documentation included with the product is clear and thorough. The product also ships with example code for various applications of the tool including C++, ASP and Java.
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