Trillium data cleansing release targets more than merely IT

The latest release of Trillium's data cleansing software includes new features designed to make business guys happy.

Trillium Software is hoping the latest release of its data quality application won't just appeal to techies but

will also catch the eye of their bosses.

Hoping to capitalize on growing support for upfront data cleansing, the division of San Antonio, Texas-based direct marketing firm Harte-Hanks Inc. is releasing Version 6 of its Trillium Software System this week. Executives are highlighting a new approach that moves control of data management closer to the boardroom.

"We're trying to give business users methodology on a macro level to complete the data quality process and better manage ROI," said Len DuBois, vice president of marketing at Trillium. "The IT people want to know how to correct bad data and make other applications more effective."

DuBois proposes that business users and IT professionals come to the table with very different demands when it comes to data quality applications, and said Trillium is hoping to appease both camps. While existing data cleansing tools have usually given both sides an ability to achieve their respective goals, this is the first Trillium product that directly separates business user needs, he said.

On a basic level, the product consists of a data converter, a customer data parser, geocode technology, matching technology and several other utilities, all of which the company says it upgraded in Version 6. Among the enhancements Trillium is highlighting in the release are data quality analytics, an international data router, a business data parser and new methodology for measuring overall data quality.

The data quality analytics tool directly typifies the move toward business users. The reporting and ROI analysis interface is engineered to help executive users garner a snap shot of what their data quality level may be, without being overly technical. The analytics package also includes an ROI assessment application for determining profitability in marketing campaigns, based on the condition of customer information. Previous iterations of the Trillium software were far less user friendly for non-IT workers, DuBois admitted.

At least one industry analyst familiar with the product believes the shifting of data controls outside the IT department, and in many cases up the organizational food chain, will gain the attention of customers. Robert Lerner, business intelligence and data warehousing analyst with Sterling, Va.-based researcher Current Analysis, said he is hearing an increasing amount about data quality from a number of different industries.

"The business user is typically the one who is really concerned with what the quality of the data is like," he said. "You also have to appeal to the 'C-level' executives who are making the buying decisions and controlling IT budgets."

Lerner said many companies still neglect to address data quality despite its ability to undermine most enterprise-wide applications.

"Helping the business side to understand and commit to data quality is only going to allow businesses to move faster and get a better look at what the ROI from all their investments can be," observed Lerner.

The analyst said he believes Trillium continues to lead the data quality market but mentioned vendors including Firstlogic Inc., La Crosse, Wis., Group 1 Software Inc., Lanham , Md., and SAS Institute, Research Triangle, N.C., as competition in the space.

Trillium said that a typical deployment of Version 6 will cost between $100,000 and $250,000, including two days of employee training and three days of professional services support.

Among the early adopters of Version 6 are AT&T Corp., FedEx Corp. and GE Capital Corp.

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