CATEGORY: Data Quality
REVIEWER: Daragh O'Brien, senior project manager for eircom ltd.
BACKGROUND: eircom ltd is the market leader in fixed-line telecommunications in the Republic of Ireland. It evolved from being a government department to a "semi-state" company, a plc and finally to a private limited company. The nature of this evolution led to the existence of many legacy operations, billing and logistics systems. This, in turn, generated many legacy data management practices and processes. Business transformation programs were beginning to suffer due to the low- quality data. Furthermore, the cost and scope of further process and system integration was adversely affected by low-quality, non-standardized data. Legacy business processes were also operating inefficiently and were cost- ineffective due to low-quality, non-standardized data. These required extensive, and therefore expensive, manual rework of low-quality data.
PLATFORMS: Athanor Designer client is installed on Windows 2000 desktops/laptops. Athanor Runtime (batch product) and Athanor Realtime run on Sun Solaris.
PROBLEM SOLVED: Athanor from Similarity Systems has been deployed to address a number of key business problems including our reliance on manual data re-entry for the telephone directory system. Due to a legacy of civil-service origins, eircom has historically relied on manual review of directory entries to eliminate errors. Athanor was deployed to standardize the directory "simple single line" entries that account for more than 80 percent of all entries. This has freed resources to focus on the exceptional items and the more complex directory entry requirements and has realized a substantial cost saving to the organization that alone justifies the investment in Athanor. Another business problem we encountered was that implementation of CRM architecture/single view of customer required a parsing/standardization tool and also a data quality profiling tool. Population of a customer/party-centric repository from an account-based legacy data warehouse required the provision of parsing and standardization functionality for name and address data. Day-to-day root-cause analysis of business issues and strategic planning of "next steps" in CRM architecture required a tool to profile and report on data quality issues in the component systems.
PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY: Athanor is performing well and has met our high expectations. Over the next 12 to 18 months we will see the use of real-time data standardization and matching as being the killer functions we would like to deploy in an increasingly integrated CRM architecture. The deployment of an information quality scorecard based on the Athanor product is also being considered in the medium term.
STRENGTHS: Athanor is an open product that is easy to understand and to use. It is also flexible it can be used across different types of data sets (names and addresses to inventory management) and in different operating environments (direct connection to database, flat-file data sources). It supports rapid proof-of-concept development and demonstration of the extent of data quality issues. The open systems architecture (XML, support for J2EE) makes it a good strategic fit for eircom's target systems architecture. Athanor has a significantly lower cost of ownership than competing products in this market. The product is also able to produce clear and concise reports to use as part of KPI tracking in the business areas.
WEAKNESSES: Error messaging and help files in earlier versions were not as good as they could have been. This is being addressed as part of each subsequent product release. Also, Athanor is not yet available on mainframes.
SELECTION CRITERIA: We needed a parsing/standardization and data quality profiling tool.
DELIVERABLES: Athanor gives us ad hoc data quality profiles on systems (HTML format or CSV file) and standardized/quality-enhanced flat files for batch-load processes.
VENDOR SUPPORT: Vendor support is excellent. Issues are resolved quickly and efficiently. The key strength in support is Similarity Systems' efforts to understand our systems and processes end to end. They also strive to understand and use our terminology.
DOCUMENTATION: The documentation is clear and well written. I developed a profiling plan in 15 minutes on my own without any product training simply by working through the documentation. The quality of documentation is continually improving with customer feedback.
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