Business Objects Moves to Master Its Data-Product Portfolio
Business Objects yesterday launched Universal Data Cleansing, a product aimed at eliminating duplication and discrepancies in product- and region-specific data. The move expands the vendor's Enterprise Information Management (EIM) portfolio and brings the firm another step closer to master data management.
Offered as an optional add-on to Business Objects' Data Quality XI Release 2, Universal Data Cleansing (UDC) is available at $25,000 per CPU (with a minimum of two CPUs), and extends the customer data quality and data cleansing capabilities developed by Firstlogic, which Business Objects acquired in April of 2006, into the product and region realms. "Our offerings, and the data quality market in general, [have] always done a great job of helping companies parse, correct, standardize, enhance, and match customer information," says Kristin McMahon, product marketing manager of Business Objects' EIM unit. "UDC takes that same process and applies it to areas such as product and financial data."
UDC automates the standardization process and addresses structured data as well as semi-structured text up to 8,000 characters long. The software provides users with access to an automated data standardization solution that identifies abnormalities not considered by those processing the data. For example, UDC can parse and identify characteristics within product descriptions, such as identifying "Light Bulb 120 Volt 100 Watt" that's been entered multiple times with different capitalizations, spelling, numbers, abbreviations, and punctuation. In addition, preloaded dictionaries help decipher colors, sizes, weights, and measures in both U.S. and metric standards, as well as in six different languages.
McMahon also stresses UDC's tight integration with Data Quality XI, which allows customers to enhance process efficiencies between end users and the technology department, she says. Specifically, McMahon points to using UDC in tandem with Data Insight, the data profiling tool offered within Data Quality XI that allows data stewards to conduct ongoing contextual analysis of input/output and directly add, modify, or delete product classifications. "Those changes can then be directly loaded into UDC for the I.T. user to incorporate into the data cleansing cycle," McMahon says. "This means the I.T. user no longer has to guess at appropriate business rules."
While Firstlogic's technology was heavily focused on customer data quality, UDC has "significantly strengthened its ability to cleanse product information and other non-name/address data from many nations, languages, and industries," says James Kobielus, principal analyst at Current Analysis. That represents a strong acknowledgment of the industry's growing affinity for master data management (MDM), Kobielus says.
A recent Ventana Research study suggests that MDM is gaining momentum, with more than three-quarters of the industry claiming to have an MDM project planned, under investigation, or already under way. While UDC is a move in the right direction toward MDM, Kobielus says, Business Objects still doesn't offer a true MDM solution. "They have a lot of the data integration and metadata management tools you need for a full-blown MDM environment, but they're not really a full-blown MDM vendor."
Business Objects' McMahon agrees. "The market is moving toward MDM because companies want to realize the value of their data assets," she says. "Today we don't offer everything you would need, but we offer the majority of the tools required for a successful customer data integration, product information management, or MDM project. This is a big step in the right direction for us."
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