Software for data quality has, for a few decades, been used to cleanse address lists, typically running as a batch process that targets pre-existing records in a database. Perhaps this is why many IT professionals think of data quality only in terms of this capacity. The truth, however, is that data quality software today supports a long list of technologies and capabilities.

THE HURWITZ TAKE: Here follows a list of leading- edge data-quality capabilities. IT organizations can use the list to recognize data quality software that is positioned for the future. Vendors should ensure that their data-quality tools satisfy these requirements.

  • Real- time data quality. The Internet-based applications that power e-commerce Web sites require data quality assurance to verify and correct information (such as shipping addresses and credit card numbers) entered into browser-based forms. E-commerce applications must cleanse data in real time with subsecond responses, cleaning relatively small amounts of information on a transactional basis at the time of data acquisition.
  • Data quality via an ASP. Any organization supporting an e-commerce Web site or in-house e- business applications should consider assuring data quality in real time before data enters critical databases. To meet this market demand, a new breed of vendors offer data quality functions via an application service provider (ASP) environment.
  • International data quality. Software that assures data quality in multinational environments should, ideally, support standards for address and telephone information for every nation worldwide, and it should support every natural language on Earth. Obviously, these are daunting tasks, so most data quality software focuses on North America, with support for most European nations and languages. But, support is coming soon for the rest of the world. Data quality technologies must be double-byte enabled and support Unicode character sets, as well as Japanese standards like JIS and Shift- JIS.
  • Data enhancement and quality assurance. Improving data by appending additional information goes far beyond cleansing data. Up-to-date data quality tools enable this value-add step by integrating with popular sources of demographics and firmagraphics.
  • One-to-one marketing for direct mail. When general demographics and individual consumer information are added to customer records in an address list, direct mail campaigns using the list have the potential of applying one-to-one marketing techniques such as personalized catalog content and unique promotions per consumer.
  • XML support. Now that XML documents have become the preference for data exchanges in Web environments, data quality tools must support XML (especially as an output format) for easy integration with e- commerce applications.
  • Data quality for packaged applications. Data quality tools should include prebuilt gateways for tight integration with CRM, ERP and other types of packaged applications.

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