The general premise of data warehousing hasn't changed much over the years. The idea is still to aggregate as much relevant data as possible from multiple sources, centralize it in a repository of some kind, catalog it, and then utilize it for reporting and analytics to make better business decisions. An effective data warehousing strategy seamlessly enables trend analysis, predictive analytics, forecasting, decision support, and just about anything else we now categorize under the umbrella of "data science."
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.
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.
While some will say that there is no true definition of Cloud and they can therefore "Cloud-promote" as they please, there are things an astute buyer should look for when determine if a product or service is actually "Cloud-like", especially since Cloudwashing might very well reach its crescendo this year.
For example, there should be a multi-tenant architecture allowing the underlying software resources to be shared transparently. There should also be a usage-based metering and billing business model, so costs of resource utilization matches actual use across a community of users.
There should also be linear scalability, a virtualized infrastructure, and an abstraction away from any underlying hardware and software complexity. In other words, reduced complexity is generally proportional to how "Cloud" a given software service is likely to be. As an example, our IronCloud platform that delivers commercial data-as-a-service products is a usage-based billed service that adheres to all of these principles.
Even though it is true that there are scenarios where a "Private Cloud" makes sense, it should still adhere to the above characteristics of a Cloud, even if it is limited to a single organization and resources are being shared across that organization in a true multi-tenant sense. But if you start to hear terms like "upgrade path", "required hardware", "required OS", "appliance", and so forth, very likely the use of the word "Cloud" has been liberally applied to describe the product or service.
So the next time someone says "to the Cloud!", make sure that is where you are really headed.
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
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!
Much of cloud computing terminology is based on the notion of ‘as a Service’ (or ‘aaS’).
In a report last week, the Open Data Center Alliance published that its members plan to triple Cloud deployments in the next two years according to a recent membership survey. This significantly outpaces the adoption forecasts from several different analyst firms and is another indicator where the I.T. industry is headed.
Of course, there are different ways to measure Cloud adoption, and while adoption rates may always be debated, there is little question of the Cloud's growing significance in I.T. Even though some Cloud forecasts combine infrastructure-as-a-Service (IAAS) with Software-as-a-Service (SAAS) and others keep them separate, in either case the trending is upward.
So here are four primary reasons why this trend is occurring and likely to continue for a long time to come:
- Cost. When deploying to the Cloud, one only has to deploy the needed I.T. resources at any given time. Capacity can be added or reduced as needed and whenever necessary. With this cost-savings "elastic" approach, usage spikes can be handled as well as increased resource demand over time. It's the difference between renting a server by-the-minute versus committing to two-year contracts with a data center provider at maximum capacity requirements. The latter, traditional approach front-loads application costs and requires significant capital expenditure. These heavy up-front costs go away in pay-for-what-you-use Cloud scenarios, including the ability to get things up and running more cheaply. Many startups deploying to the Cloud are spending less money on hardware and software investments than just a few years ago and getting up and running faster.
- Abstraction. Cloud deployments hide the details of the hardware, bandwidth resourcing, underlying software, load management, and ongoing maintenance of the given platform. This frees up resources to focus on one's own business rather than endless architecture meetings and decisions - unnecessary for a large majority of applications. This is why Salesforce.com has found success. Customers no longer have to deal with software upgrades for sales people, database choices, syncing data from laptops to servers, hardware deployment decisions, etc. It's just easier in a Cloud SAAS model.
- Innovation. An organization can leverage the innovation and expertise of those who specialize in a given Cloud-based platform such as within data-as-a-service offerings like StrikeIron provides. This continual innovation can be leveraged as a Cloud platform becomes more advanced without any effort of the organization's own resources. The platform improves daily, and these incremental improvements are put to use immediately for the benefit of customers and without company-wide software upgrades and rollouts. Instead, it's built-in and essentially automatic with the Cloud model. Another example is Amazon's EC2, where an increasing number of new features and capabilities can be leveraged without application redeployment.
- Platform Independence. When deploying to the Cloud, many different types of devices and clients can leverage the application via APIs or other interfaces, from PCs, tablets, smart phones, and other systems, as all communication between machines is via the ubiquitous Web, available just about any time anywhere. This makes interoperability easier, and extensive "middleware" investments of the past to make things work together can be dramatically reduced. This is one of the primary reasons why tablets such as the iPad for example have grown considerably in adoption now versus ten years ago – they work with the Cloud and can access a broad array of useful applications from just about anywhere.
These benefits of the Cloud aren't going away, and this is why the adoption trend is accelerating upward.
StrikeIron's Global Address Verification Web Service enables addresses to be validated for existence and accuracy in over 240 countries around the world. This Web service is a very useful, easy-to-integrate API for checking shipping addresses, validating customer data, identity verification, and several other use cases where address accuracy is important. A simple SOAP or REST call from a Website, business process, application, or mobile device (a single line of code in most development environments) is all that is needed to invoke the service and verify a global address via the Cloud. We take care of all the underlying reference data updates, so the most recent, accurate data is in use at all times.
One of the primary methods for validating a global address is "basic" verification. It requires only an address line, a country-specific locality line (such as city, city & state, city & province, etc.), and the country. Using that information, the appropriate country-specific postal reference data will be utilized to provide the result.
Just for demonstration (and fun), here are a few sample addresses that demonstrate validating some famous addresses around the World:
The "Cloud" has been seeing a lot of momentum this past year, and one place where that is readily apparent is in the stock price of companies making major strategic investments in Cloud technology and associated offerings, as well as aggressive go-to-market plans with those offerings.
There are three primary points of communication with customers and potential customers. They are the physical address (mail), the email address, and the telephone number. And often more than one in each case.
Salesforce.com is holding its Dreamforce event this week in San Francisco, and its staggering run continues to show no signs of slowing. The conference is Salesforce's eighth and largest ever, with twenty-two thousand attendees. Salesforce and its CRM "Sales Cloud" has always been one of the poster-children for SAAS, and is now riding the Cloud wave higher and higher. It was a product offering originally geared towards SMBs with minimal IT staff but now has penetrated companies of all sizes with its annual revenue run rate of $1.7 billion USD.
The use of the product at large companies is a clear signal. It was very telling during the keynote that half of the enormous audience raised their hands when Marc Benioff, Salesforce.com's CEO, asked how many in the keynote hall were from companies with 1000 or more employees. This is solid evidence that SAAS, and the Cloud, or at least the Salesforce.com version of the Cloud, has arrived emphatically in the enterprise and is growing there at great speed.
Salesforce has not only been a success for the company itself, but also for its hundreds of technology and product partners, many of which are at the expo with booths (including StrikeIron). Many of these partners have fared well providing add-on capabilities (like our native, Force.com data verification/quality services for Salesforce) to the core CRM and related-product suite. For example, there has been an 82% increase of application installs from the partner AppExchange this year versus the same time last year, nearly doubling the usage of partner applications and add-ons.
Some other feathers in the Salesforce cap:
In addition to its recent nine-figure acquisition of Jigsaw (a giant, crowd-sourced database of business cards), a $212M+stock acquistion of Heroku, a Ruby-based platform-as-a-service play was announced this morning.