I've had an opportunity to work closely with ActivePrime lately as they are in the homestretch of beta-testing their CleanVerify product. CleanVerify is one of a suite of products they market to help companies improve, organize, and better utilize the data within Oracle CRM On Demand. I'm really excited about what they have accomplished.
ActivePrime has integrated several services from StrikeIron as part of their solution. I am helping them test the usability of the integration. Utilizing StrikeIron's Cloud-based address verification, email verification, and phone validation products, ActivePrime is able to deliver a powerful, high-performance, real-time data validation and data cleansing solution fully integrated within Oracle CRM On Demand. This enables customers to focus on closing business rather than the ongoing maintenance of data within their CRM system.
For example, a call center representative collecting contact information from a customer and entering it into the Oracle CRM On Demand system can now automatically validate that the collected mailing address, phone number, and email address are all correct (see screen shots below). Validating data at the point of collection before it ever gets into the CRM system can reduce the cost of downstream data cleansing efforts as much as 10x, ensuring a high level of quality data within the CRM system from the moment the data is entered.
In addition to validating the data in real-time, additional information, such as correct ZIP+4 and county, is also added to address records.
Another nice feature is a log that gets created that keeps track of every validation that occurs within the Oracle CRM On Demand system, ideal for administrators and other data stewards who like to stay on top of these kinds of things.
If you would like to try the integration during the beta period, or anytime after, ActivePrime is offering a CleanVerify trial here.
Validating a mailing address:
Validating a phone number:
Validating an email address:
Many of StrikeIron's direct customers integrate our various API-delivered data services into applications, Web sites, and business processes entirely on their own, usually with a single line of code or two - a testament to how easy this is to do. These product offerings available on the Cloud can be integrated into anything that can consume a SOAP or REST-based Web service (which is just about anything).
However, StrikeIron has also developed technology integration partnerships with many of today’s top software and Internet solutions platforms, solutions which are all enhanced by integrating Data-as-a-Service capabilities from StrikeIron.
Having these capabilities, such as real-time address verification, email verification, sales tax rates, foreign currency rates, SMS text messaging, and phone verification, pre-integrated into various other platforms that are already in use by large customers every day can be a very compelling solution. It is a win-win-win scenario for our customers, partners, and our technology.
One such partner is Informatica. Informatica has integrated several StrikeIron services for the purposes of contact data validation within its Informatica Cloud platform, as data validation is a very important step in the integration of data between various platforms. These services can be used via the Informatica Cloud StrikeIron plug-in, or as directly integrated within the Informatica Cloud platform per our most recent partnership. In the latter case, some of our services are available for use simply by checking a box directly within Informatica's Cloud application. This makes it very easy to have high quality, validated data arriving at a target destination, having been cleansed as an intermediate step while in transit from its source. You can view a recorded Webinar here.
Email validation, if done effectively, not only keeps organizations off of spam lists when communicating with customers and prospective customers, but also can provide new opportunities. Running a batch of email validation checks against an entire CRM contact database at certain time intervals is likely to yield a subset of invalid email addresses within the contact data. Of course, this is usually because people leave organizations for one reason or another. It could also mean they changed their email address, or be the result of some other possible reason.
Since the majority of the time these invalid email addresses likely represent contacts at customer or target companies that are no longer there (and their email addresses have been disabled), they likely have a replacement or someone else within that organization that is important to create a new relationship with. Realizing this and being alerted of it via an email validation process approach helps savvy customer-facing employees get in front of and be proactive with replacement contacts sooner rather than later in order to maintain key, existing relationships.
This process only works of course if real-time email validation solutions are utilized that do not rely upon static database lookups using data that can age quickly. Only solutions that go out to the Internet with each email check to recognize invalid email addresses in real-time will be useful in these scenarios.
The identification of these invalid email addresses in real-time typically triggers an action for a customer service representative or a sales person to reach out to the company to begin building the new relationship. This contact action can be a key trigger for new opportunities as well as strengthening existing customer relationships as there is a basis for communication with the customer, partner, or target company since the point of contact is no longer a part of the organization.
Fortunately, it is very easy to run these kinds of batch email validations using a Cloud-based email validation product such as StrikeIron provides. A mechanism is created that calls out to the StrikeIron platform via an API function call as each contract record is checked, simply reporting which email addresses are no longer valid. This creates a contact action list for customer service or sales teams to follow up with and potentially turn into new business opportunities in addition to maintaining existing ones.
The appropriate time interval to run these types of mass email validation processes against a contact database could be every 30 days, every 90 days, or whatever seems ideal for a given business. Keeping contact data fresh and current can be a tremendous competitive advantage, especially when it's so easy.
StrikeIron is excited to announce its inclusion in SAP's PartnerEdge Program and the integration of our Cloud-based Web service product offerings into SAP's Business ByDesign
business management solution. This integration and partnership enables us to broaden access of our Contact Record Verification Suite
into the ecosystem of SAP Business ByDesign, SAP's fully integrated business management solution. SAP Business ByDesign is delivered on-demand and dedicated to companies in the small and midsize enterprise (SME) market, as well as to subsidiaries of large enterprises running SAP solutions.
Here is a YouTube video demonstration showing StrikeIron's Cloud-based Reverse Phone and Address Lookup Web Service
integrated into SAP's Business ByDesign. The entire workflow is demonstrated: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PB5OJArHWBQ
To read the full release: http://bit.ly/zD6jHV
Email is a great way to communicate with customers and leads. However, email campaigns can be put at risk if a company’s database has out-of-date or inactive email addresses.
Sending promotional materials to invalid or disabled email addresses, if done frequently enough, can put a company on spam lists. This means that important communications to legitimate email addresses will land in the spam folder and likely go unread.
How can this happen? People change email addresses all of the time. They leave companies, or create temporary email addresses for certain purposes, or just simply start getting too much spam. Consequently, they create a new email address and disable the old one.
If you continue to send email to addresses that are not valid frequently enough, ISPs (Internet Service Providers) that host these email addresses will put you on their spammer list under the assumption that you are sending email to random addresses. They will then block all of the email you send in the future to any other email accounts they host. This can severely hamper your marketing and customer communication efforts, so maintaining clean email address databases is very important. Also, once you are on a spammer list, it can be very difficult to get off.
Simply checking the syntax (i.e. is it missing a period? Is it missing the @ symbol?) of email addresses is not enough. It's important to also know whether the email address can receive messages and not get bounced back. After all, the syntax of a disabled email address will likely be correct. This is where a sophisticated email address verification process that employs multiple algorithms and real-time validity mechanisms is extremely important and useful.
A scan of all email addresses prior to outbound communication (or at least at some regularly scheduled interval) to verify validity, and then removing those email addresses that are no longer receiving email, is now an imperative for an effective communications program.
SAP Business ByDesign
is a comprehensive, integrated SAAS business management suite that can run the entire information chain of a business, including financials, human resources, sales, procurement, customer service and supply chain.
In its partnership with SAP, StrikeIron helps deliver additional functionality to the Business ByDesign offering in the form of pre-integrated SOAP-based Web services and SAP's "enterprise mashup" capabilities. This enables end user personalization and key user adaptation without requiring development skills.
In the following screencast, you can see a demonstration that utilizes StrikeIron's Cloud-based Reverse Phone and Address Lookup Web Service
, integrated into SAP's Business ByDesign product by the SAP team. The entire workflow is demonstrated:
Be sure to turn up the volume!
Organizations collect leads in many different ways. Leads are collected when prospects respond to offers, fill out forms in websites, or send email inquiries. Leads can occur simply by word of mouth or other lead capturing tools as well.
Once a database of leads has been created, what can be done to improve the value of this asset that helps drive all future sales? How can the data be leveraged to optimize the time of the sales organization before they receive these leads?
There are 3 main ways to improve the value of lead data:
The first is to eliminate bogus or phantom leads. One way to do this is by validating the existence of email addresses for leads. This not only removes obvious fake email addresses, but also filters email addresses from domains that are not operational and have been turned off or cannot accept email. Other data such as phone numbers or mailing addresses can also be used for lead validation. Lead filtering such as this can prevent the sales organization from wasting valuable time on these phantom leads. It can also reduce spend for marketing campaigns and keep an organization off of spam lists.
Secondly, improving the quality of lead data is also important. This means ensuring that phone numbers are correct, addresses are accurate and do not contain typos, any missing information like zip codes or area codes is added, and correcting anything else that require members of the sales team to waste time chasing down a lead. Incomplete or inaccurate information and associated lost time hinder a sales force from understanding and meeting the needs of actual prospects.
Third and finally, appending additional information to each lead can help provide data points that can be used for segmentation, personalization, localization, and other forms of targeted marketing. For example, appending latitude and longitude data can help with market visualization and opportunity identification. Combining that data with census and other demographic information help score leads for sales to prioritize opportunities.
Sales leads are the lifeblood of revenue generation. The smart organizations recognize that and treat them as such.
2011 has been the year of the Cloud database. The idea of shared database resources and the abstraction of underlying hardware seems to be catching on. Just like Web and application servers, paying-as-you-go and eliminating unused database resources, licenses, hardware, and all of the associated cost is proving to have attractive enough business models that the major vendors are betting on it in significant ways.
The recent excitement has not been limited to just the fanfare around "big data" technologies. Lately, most of the major announcements have come around the traditional relational, table-driven SQL environments Web applications make use of much more widely than the key-value pair data storage mechanisms "NoSQL" technology uses for Web-scale data-intensive applications such as Facebook, NetFlix, etc.
Here are some of the new Cloud database offerings for 2011:
Saleforce.com has launched Database.com, enabling developers in other Cloud server environments such as Amazon's EC2 and the Google App Engine to utilize its database resources, not just users of Salesforce's CRM and Force.com platforms. You can also build applications in PHP or on the Android platform and utilize Database.com resources. The idea is to reach a broader set of developers and application types than just CRM-centric applications.
At Oracle Open World a couple of weeks ago, Oracle announced the Oracle Database Cloud Service, a hosted database offering running Oracle's 11gR2 database platform available in a monthly subscription model, accessible either via JDBC or its own REST API.
Earlier this month, Google announced Google Cloud SQL, a database service that will be available as part of its App Engine offering based on MySQL, complete with a Web-based administration panel.
Amazon, to complement its other Cloud services and highly used EC2 infrastructure, has made the Amazon Relational Database Service (RDS) available to enable SQL capabilities from Cloud applications, giving you a choice of underlying database technology to use such as MySQL or Oracle. It is currently in beta.
Microsoft also has its SQL Azure Cloud Database offering available in the Cloud, generally positioned as suited for applications that use the Microsoft stack for developers that will want to leverage some of the benefits of the Cloud.
Some of the above offerings have only been announced so far, and not actually launched. Or, they have limited preview access available now. Also, even the business models in some of these cases have not even been completely divulged, or if so are very likely to change.
Clearly there is a considerable marketshare land grab existing now. All of the major vendors are recognizing that traditional-SQL Cloud storage infrastructure will be an important technology going forward. Adding a solid database layer to the Cloud architecture story seems like an important step in the continuing enterprise and commercial software move to the Cloud, and these new vendor offerings should in turn accelerate this move.
So, is this really the wave of the future? Some of the major questions that will have to be answered include those around latency. When data requests have to hop from a client application, then to the application server, to the database, and then back to the server and client, even multiple times within a single request, it can result in quite a performance hit. Likely, these machines exist far from each other geographically and might really slow things done, annoying an end-user with the slow page loads. This is probably why most infrastructure providers realize that they have to have the corresponding database capabilities available and accessed natively to reduce this latency. However, performance, along with security issues (perceived or otherwise) still could be a significant barrier to mainstream adoption.
Also, most of the relational database environments that exist in the Cloud only have a subset of SQL capabilities available and in some cases can be quite limited. For example, many of these Cloud SQL platforms don't support cross-table joins, at least not yet. This is a very common requirement for SQL applications. The lack of support is primarily because joins can consume a lot of resources, another performance-killer in shared environments.
Once most of this storage and Cloud database infrastructure gets in place however, incorporating more content-oriented data services such as customer data verification will become commonplace and easy to leverage. We may even see them incorporated into the database offerings themselves as they look to differentiate themselves from vendor to vendor. Cloud-based database offerings have the advantage of making much larger libraries of data-oriented add-on capabilities available right out of the box, so the story here is much more than just cost.
While SQL Cloud offering announcements are all the rage in 2011, 2012 will undoubtedly tell the adoption tale. No doubt these offerings will be ideal and cost-effective for many use cases out there. But will demand be large enough quickly enough to support all of these vendors and drive the innovation at a speed that will make these platforms viable in the near future for enterprise and commercial applications? The answer is likely yes, but the next twelve months or so will give us a lot of the supporting data to measure the extent of the trend.
StrikeIron, the cloud leader in data quality and data communications, announced today the roll-out of Trident, the next generation email verification technology and the most accurate solution in the market.
Read the full press release here.
At Larry Ellison's keynote yesterday at the Oracle OpenWorld event, he announced the Oracle Public Cloud and Oracle's move into Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IAAS) offerings, primarily geared towards Java developers and users of Oracle's Fusion Applications. The brand "Fusion Applications" represents a set of over 100 different modules (financials, HR, etc.) which have been designed to run both on-premise and now in the Cloud and is launching after six years of development.
Clearly the Sun acquisition gave Oracle a lot of the Cloud technology to get to this point, but Salesforce's $2 billion in revenue, increasing penetration into enterprises, and launch of Database.com at the Dreamforce event might be pushing Oracle more quickly into this direction.
However, Ellison was quick to point out that Oracle's Cloud approach was an open one and would enable deployments to be moved to other Cloud environments such as Amazon.com (at least in theory) because of its Java roots, rather than a proprietary one like Salesforce.com's where applications are built with a proprietary language (Apex). Cost, however, was not discussed.
In addition to IAAS and Fusion Applications, Oracle will also have other hosted applications available in its Public Cloud such as its database platform, the SUN OS's, Fusion Middleware, and its Enterprise Manager offering.
This move is more evidence that the industry is moving full steam ahead to Cloud-based deployments, where enterprises can consolidate legacy spending, have fewer servers and other hardware, fewer on-premise software deployments, and a greater reliance on SAAS applications and other service-oriented offerings such as data-as-a-service (DAAS).
One of the things you can see from the picture below is that the Cloud really lays the foundation for "data service" components (notice the distinction versus "database service"), enabling enterprises to quickly leverage third-party datasets and data-oriented business functions such as customer contact data validation. This would be more difficult to achieve in on-premise solutions because third-party data has to be acquired, stored, maintained, and managed - a costly and time-consuming process. With the Cloud, you can simply plug into these services and have all of the third party data managed for you.
So the Public Cloud has been announced, but when will it be launched? StrikeIron is eagerly waiting.