For those of you with school age kids, you have probably already received your childrens’ report cards. When was the last time you saw a report card for your data? Data validation testing enables you to get insight into the quality of your data assets. And, like report cards at school, you should grade your organization on a regular basis to monitor your progress.
If you are testing your data, it is important to set both the metrics you are going to test, as well as the goals and next steps to drive improvements.
When performing data validation testing, you should look at several metrics:
1) Completeness – Is the data in your databases and applications complete? That is, do all of the fields contain data or are some blank?
2) Validity- Are the fields formatted correctly as valid values for that particular field type? For example, do email addresses conform to the formats specified in RFC 5322?
3) Verified – Is the data verified correct? For example, is the address a deliverable postal address?
4) Accuracy and correctness – Is the data accurate for the record? That is, does the name and address in your systems match the current name and address for that individual or business?
5) Distribution – How are the same records distributed across your CRM, ERP, Marketing Automation, and other platforms and are they synchronized between systems? Unsynchronized and non-consistent data is one of the primary drivers for Master Data Management (MDM) initiatives.
Prior to starting your data validation test, you should decide on the concrete next steps that you will take to improve your data. For example, prior to testing data completeness, you should determine how important it is to make your data complete, and how you will resource any areas you wish to improve. Like most testing activities, the end goal should be to drive actions.
What does you data validation report card look like? Do you have straight A’s or do you need improvement? Let us know, we would like to hear from you. Drop us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org or give us a call at 919.467.4545.
Master Data Management, also known as MDM, often comes up in conversation as a key information technology initiative for an enterprise, including considerations for leveraging the Cloud as an ideal environment for MDM. We can save Cloud considerations for a later post, so for now, a very basic MDM primer might be a good idea for those who scratch their head at the mere mention of the term. It's actually a much simpler concept than descriptions of it often entail.
MDM is simply about keeping non-transactional data, such as customer data, in a single place (logically or physically) to be shared across many different systems. When each system that uses this customer data, whether it is a CRM system, an accounting system, a support system, or a business intelligence system, updates or adds to data about a customer, all connected systems gain the benefit of that change.
This "master data" approach also eliminates inconsistencies of things like contact information and customer notes across different systems where customer data may be captured, and does a far better job of keeping customer data current. To use a few timeworn adages, with MDM we are keeping all of our customer data eggs in one basket, with the idea that the whole is greater than the sum of the parts.
The other key benefit to maintaining and managing customer data in one place for use across multiple line-of-business systems is that customer data-specific activities can be performed with that data, benefitting each connected system that makes use of the data. This includes customer data quality initiatives, not only validating and correcting customer data to keep it as current as possible, but also using external third party data sources to create a more vivid, detailed view of an organization's customers. Other activities include customer data consolidation (matching and eliminating redundancy), data governance, easing the distribution of customer data (the Cloud), better customer communication, and a foundation for richer analytics that utilize customer data.
At the end of the day, customer data is one of a company's most important assets. The MDM approach helps maximize the value of that data for use.
StrikeIron's partner ActivePrime will be leading a data quality discussion during a session at Oracle OpenWorld in San Francisco on Thursday, October 6th, at 1:30 pm PDT at the Intercontinental Hotel San Francisco, Grand Ballroom A.
One of the primary themes of the session are the differences in data quality for SAAS CRM solutions versus on-premise solutions, and how real-time data quality can be leveraged at the point of data collection. It will also focus on how to manage data quality in hybrid SAAS and on-premise environments. ActivePrime's Clint Bidlack and Rosaline Gulati will lead the presentation.
In collaboration with StrikeIron, ActivePrime's CleanVerify offering utilizes StrikeIron's Contact Record Validation Suite to provide a seamless real-time data quality solution within Oracle CRM On Demand. The SAAS solution leverages StrikeIron's Cloud-based data delivery capabilities to validate, correct, and enhance physical address data, email address data, and telephone data directly within the Oracle system.
Because all of the reference data is stored out on the Cloud, there is no need to ever perform reference data updates. Oracle CRM On Demand users can always rest assured that their data validation processes are always using the latest, most current data available as the basis for the ongoing validation checks.
Also in this session, ActivePrime will discuss case studies where they have delivered a much better data foundation to customers utilizing Oracle CRM On Demand in hybrid environments so they can maximize ROI and get the most out of their CRM and marketing processes. Customers Insperity (formerly Administaff) and Komori will be presenting about their experiences at the session. I will be in attendance and answering questions at the session as well.
DataFlux will be holding its annual users conference this week in Hollywood, Florida near Miami. The annual "IDEAS" event brings together many of the top data experts in the industry. Key topics of discussion will include data quality, data stewardship, data governance, MDM, and the data supply chain. StrikeIron's Chris Atkinson will be at the event.
An interesting case study given by CEO Tony Fisher at the event keynote will discuss how Woolworth's failure
to embrace technology as one of the reasons for its decline, and the importance of taking advantage of data and related data management technology as a foundation to success. He is also discussing the explosion of data, including non-structured data (from sources such as Twitter), as well as the data supply chain.DataFlux
is a key partner to StrikeIron
providing some of the software technology that helps StrikeIron deliver solutions such as the Contact Record Verification Suite
, a real-time customer data quality solution that validates addresses, phone numbers, and email addresses at the point of data collection. This occurs via real-time validation checks via the Cloud and is very easy to integrate into any Website, application, or business process.
As part of our Contact Record Verification Suite, StrikeIron has the ability to instantly validate phone numbers. This means that via an integrated Web service, you can send us a phone number and we will respond with the validity of the phone number, including the city, county, time zone, span of zip codes for which this number might exist, including some basic population demographics about the area.
This can be ideal for ensuring high quality data before it is ever inserted into a CRM system for example, whether from a Web-to-lead form or from a call center representative, and can provide some considerable fraud detection value as well.
Here is an example:
Passing us phone number 330-336-2051
Yields the following result:
StatusDescription = Area Code and Exchange Valid
OriginalPhoneNumber = 3303362051
DecoratedPhoneNumber = (330) 336-2051
AreaCode = 330
Exchange = 336
Station = 2051
Country = US
State = OH
City = WADSWORTH
County = MEDINA
Timezone = -5
DST = 1
CountyPopulation = 151000
ZipCode = 44281
ZipCodeCount = 3935
ZipCodeFrequency = 87
ZipCode = 44203
ZipCodeCount = 213
ZipCodeFrequency = 5
ZipCode = 44273
ZipCodeCount = 156
ZipCodeFrequency = 3
ZipCode = 44256
ZipCodeCount = 94
ZipCodeFrequency = 2
ZipCode = 44270
ZipCodeCount = 78
ZipCodeFrequency = 2
This data can be useful in a variety of different ways, and since we provide the result in XML, you can then utilize this data in whatever way makes sense for you. Integrating this kind of phone number validation check into a business process, Website, application, or anything else can be quite useful.
One of the most important asset categories an organization has is its collection of data assets. This is why so much money is spent on databases, applications, hardware, software, people, and other information system line items: to support these data assets because people understand in general the value of these data assets and how they can help an organization succeed. Often, information technology costs are even far more than other parts of the organization.
We all know that systems are only as good and useful as the data within them. Yet, so few companies have plans around the quality and completeness of the data that sits at the very core of these systems where major investments have been made.
Most companies have general business plans, sales incentive plans, go-to-market plans, financial plans, technology adoption plans, and product offering plans. But how many organizations actually have a 'data management' plan in place?
If you are not sure if your organization has one, or if you think your organization has one and you surmise it is not an effective one, here are some questions to ask:
Is there an individual in your organization responsible for the overall quality, completeness, accuracy, and comprehensiveness of the data assets that form the lifeblood of the various systems in use by the organization?
Is there an actual written data management plan accessible by all, one that states what the goals of the plan are, and establishes metrics for achieving those goals?
Is there a process for ongoing "data quality testing" to ensure that the data management policies in place are actually being adhered to and achieved?
Are members of every department aware of the policies that exist in the plan? Are they enforced across the organization? Are all employees trained on these policies?
Is there a technology strategy as part of the data management plan? Have technologies and products been identified and under review to determine if they can help an organization meet the goals stated in the management plan?
If you are not comfortable with the answers to these questions, chances are a plan doesn't exist, or if it does, its implementation has been poor and is likely ineffective.
The data an organization has about customers, potential customers, partners, and other contacts can be such a critical, competitive advantage in the marketplace. If there is not a plan to maximize the value of these data assets in place, at least a basic plan with basic metrics, then I think a lot of opportunity for your organization is simply being lost. Since this is one of those areas of the business where you have practically 100% control over, not having a data management plan in place is a sure sign that your data, and your organization, is far from what it could be.
StrikeIron offers an Email Verification Web Service
(can be easily integrated into applications, business processes and Web sites via SOAP and REST) that for the most part identifies whether or not an email address is a valid one (it exists and can receive email) without actually sending an email.
We use a series of "secret sauce" algorithms running in parallel across the Web, including some things like domain name existence checking, MX record analysis, SMTP conversations, and several other series of redundant checks to make this work.
Email verification/validation is important not only to filter out bogus email addresses, but also to stop sending email (such as newsletters) to email addresses that no longer exist (typically because someone no longer works at a company).
There are a broad range of benefits for this kind of capability, such as keeping off spam lists from mass emailing to non-working addresses, optimizing the time of a sales team by filtering out phantom leads, identity verification, and also triggering reach outs to contact lists when an invalid email address indicates that a current contact is no longer with a company. This last one can be important for several departments, including accounting/collections, sales, and marketing.
We have also done an integration of the capability into Salesforce.com
to make the email validation process within Salesforce seamless and very simple to turn on.
A simple concept, with a complex behind-the-scenes process, can be a big help on the path to success.
StrikeIron is going to be sending a large contingent of team members out to the Salesforce.com Dreamforce event December 6th-9th at the Moscone Center in San Francisco. It is being billed by Salesforce as the "Cloud Computing Event of the Year".
We will be showcasing our native Force.com applications, where we have seamlessly integrated several of our data verification offerings into the Salesforce.com CRM platform, including address verification, email verification, and the Do Not Call list (checking in real-time for outbound compliance).
We also will be showing our Informatica Cloud Contact Record Verification plug-in, where data being loaded into Salesforce.com from various sources can be validated and enhanced as it is being loaded into the system (daily lead loads for example). This can provide for dramatically better data quality within Salesforce, which is often cited as the #1 problem with CRM ROI.
And then of course we have several other data-as-a-service and data verification offerings that are easy to integrate into any application. While the underlying technology for cloud-based name, address, email, and telephone verification is the same, there are of course many cases where you would want to do this outside of Salesforce, but still to the benefit of CRM and other applications.
We will have engineering (including our CTO), marketing, and business development folks (including myself) available for anyone who wants to explore our technology, asks questions, and discuss partnership opportunities.
We hope to see you there!
Members of the StrikeIron team were at Informatica World this week showcasing the new Contact Record Verification Suite Cloud Plug-In we've jointly built with Informatica. It enables high quality, accurate, and current data to be loaded into Salesforce.com from many diverse sources, including flat files, Excel, databases, or other applications such as Oracle's eBusiness Suite. As data is moving from the source data into Salesforce.com, phone numbers, email addresses, and physical addresses are verified, validated, and enhanced using StrikeIron's Web Services. This includes a check against reference "truth" data that it is matched against in StrikeIron's data center - all seamlessly via the Web.
This means that once the data arrives at its Salesforce.com target, it is more accurate, current and complete than it was at its target. It will therefore provide for a much more effective CRM experience once the cleaner, more accurate data is residing within the Salesforce system. Combined with Informatica Cloud's scheduling capabilities (for nightly lead loads for example), this creates a very compelling solution for addressing Salesforce.com data quality, time and time again cited as a top issue.
The plug-in is simply a "maplet" in Informatica parlance, which directs each record to a StrikeIron verification process and data enhancement step prior to being loaded into Salesforce. This means that it could also be used in other Informatica products if desired, such as Power Center, IDQ, and MDM.
The key point is that CRM systems are only as good as the data within them.
Here is a datasheet for the product: https://community.informatica.com/mpresources/docs/Infa_cloud_StrikeIron_DS.pdf
Here is a video demonstration on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c4-s6kRam6c&feature=player_embedded
The joint solution is available now - contact us to try it out (trials available).
Informatica's Cloud Data Integration Solutions enable the management of data from the cloud or within the cloud for a broad range of applications and use cases.
For example, data can be moved using Informatica's Cloud Data Integration solution from legacy systems during an initial implementation of Salesforce.com's sales force automation product so an organization can leverage existing data when they launch Salesforce.com internally. Also, it can be used to import lead data from a broad range of file formats into Salesforce.com for existing implementations, greatly simplifying this process.
Also, data can be synchronized from other applications such as between Oracle's eBusiness Suite, Microsoft Dynamics, SAP, SAS, JD Edwards, Siebel, Peoplesoft, Pivotal and other enterprise applications, cloud-based applications and enterprise data sources, as well as many different databases and data formats. It can even be integrated into Amazon's EC2 cloud platform. This is achieved via "adapters" that Informatica has developed over time, many of which come from their PowerCenter solution. These adapters enable the moving of data assets between and/or into these different applications that are present within an organization.
Use cases include data/back office synchronization, data importing and exporting, customer master synchronization (MDM), CRM integration, data replication, data archiving, and legacy application retirement to name a few.
Now, as all this data is being moved around between applications and sources, this is an ideal time to ensure validity of the data, as well as ensuring it is accurate, standardized, complete, and current. This is where StrikeIron comes in with its Contact Record Verification Suite, validating, correcting, and enhancing addresses, phone numbers, email addresses, and other geographic information. This ensures that the best possible data is running at the core of all of an organization's business processes.
StrikeIron's Contact Record Verification Suite is essentially a set of cloud-based plug-ins that Informatica has integrated into its platform as another "adapter" or "plug-in" that can sit in the middle of data moving between applications to or in the cloud, including multiple data formats and databases.
In this particular video, the phone number validation component is being used as part of the Informatica Cloud Data Integration Solution to validate phone numbers and add other geographic information such as zip code and time zone as lead data is being moved into Salesforce.com from an Excel spreadsheet:
If you'd like to see how this can be achieved within your organization, send us an email at email@example.com or give us a call at 919-467-4545.