CATEGORY: Data Quality

REVIEWER: Nathan Williams, business software developer for Bob Jones University.

BACKGROUND: Founded in 1927, Bob Jones University is a private Christian liberal arts university located in Greenville, South Carolina. The university has a staff of 1,500 and a student body of 5,000 and offers degrees ­ from associate to doctorate ­ in more than 150 academic majors ranging from administrative technology to women's ministries.

PLATFORMS: The University's enterprise computing environment consists of multiprocessor IBM RS/6000 systems running the IBM AIX UNIX operating system and a collection of Intel servers running a variety of operating systems. The university runs a combination of IBM's Informix database engine and front-end tools, as well as IBM's WebSphere Commerce Suite infrastructure software that drives University Press' Web site. The university, a long-time Informix customer, is planning a migration to IBM DB2 in the near future.

PROBLEM SOLVED: The University has long been an advocate of data quality as it relates to address cleansing, standardization and verification. We have recognized the positive effect data quality was having on the University's bottom line. With more business (transactions) being generated through Bob Jones University Press ­ either via the Web site or the University Press call center ­ the need for a cost-effective data quality solution was greater than ever before. When the previous solution we were using for address verification and cleansing became too expensive to operate across our enterprise computing environment, the university began shopping for a new solution ­ one that would meet our current needs as well as scale as required for the future.

PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY: Bob Jones University is using Firstlogic's Information Quality Suite for customer and student address cleansing, standardization and verification.

STRENGTHS: The ability to utilize Firstlogic IQ Suite in a batch and real-time environment was one of the major features that attracted us to the solution. The performance has exceeded our expectations. Firstlogic IQ Suite's cleansing, matching, standardization and validation capabilities are very powerful and intuitive. Firstlogic's customer support organization is first-rate.

WEAKNESSES: The documentation, although good, could be further improved by including real-world examples to illustrate product features and capabilities.

SELECTION CRITERIA: During due diligence, we evaluated products validating against a set of approximately 100,000 addresses contained in our database. We found that solutions offered by Firstlogic, Inc. had the highest verification success percentage, and performance was extremely favorable as well.

DELIVERABLES: The University strives to meet the most stringent bulk-mailing rate requirements of the United States Postal Service to qualify for the maximum discounts possible. We are using Firstlogic's Information Quality Suite for address cleansing, standardization and verification. The Firstlogic software parses and standardizes address information, corrects and verifies all address elements and enhances address data with components such as postal codes and other critical elements. The academic side uses data cleansing primarily in a batch mode, while University Press uses the product primarily in real time. As our 50 sales representatives speak with customers and enter new information into the system, that information is verified in real time. In the near future, University Press will be launching a new Web site which will also deploy Firstlogic's software to verify name and address information in real time as it is entered into Web pages. Until recently, a significant portion of our business has been generated through our catalog ­ a "phone-in-your-order" type of a system. Having an automated address verification system in place helps eliminate some of the errors that are the inevitable result of a phone-based order system due to miscommunication between the sales representative and the customer that results in information being entered incorrectly. Our mailings are getting to our intended audience, which is keeping us from incurring increased costs in terms of mail returns as well as avoiding additional postal service fees. We also use Firstlogic's software to verify whether a particular address is valid to receive mailings, packages and letters, not only ensuring delivery accuracy but also uncovering possible fraudulent mail activities.

VENDOR SUPPORT: Our experiences with Firstlogic ­ both pre- and post-sales, have been extremely positive.

DOCUMENTATION: The documentation is good.

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