It's the Data, Stupid!
Software is sexy; but data is the fuel that drives value from applications. And that's why data integration platform vendor Acta Technology teamed with data quality specialist Trillium Software to make sure data, much like high-octane gasoline, keeps enterprise applications humming.
Planned for release early next month, Java-based ActaWorks Trillium Interface will enable customers to clean and parcel out data. Specifically, ActaWorks greases the wheels of enterprise applications such as ERP, SCM and CRM, allowing data to move between them -- a feat also known as extraction, transformation and loading (ETL) -- while Trillium performs data cleansing in real-time.
In practice, for instance, the system (the interface, ActaWorks and Trillium Software System combined) can identify missing data in a customer order and then try and locate the data and correct the order without going back to the customer for help. Through the interface, data is transparently passed to Trillium, from within ActaWorks data flow.
Clearly, Acta is following on e-business' coattails, whereby trading partner systems are electronically connecting with each other over the Web. Moreover, companies want to analyze deeply their data, in hopes of finding trends among their customers and suppliers. Companies often buy CRM and SCM software, run into data integration and quality problems, "and then proactively call us," says Jeff Coombs, vice president of market development at Acta.
And at least one industry watcher agrees that there's a new spotlight on data. "Close integration between ETL tools and data quality tools is much in demand," said Doug Laney, vice president of Meta Group, in a statement. "Data management professionals crave a single, seamless environment for extracting, cleansing, transforming and loading data into data warehouses, data marts, and operational data stores, and for application-to-application data integrations."
But just having clean data flowing throughout an enterprise ecosystem won't solve the integration conundrum facing many e-business customers, admits Coombs. "With data integration, you can do analysis," he says, adding, "But people also have to do business process integration."
Companies with daunting e-business integration issues tend to be global corporations that have many different geographies, applications, customers and suppliers, says Coombs. Privately-held Acta boasts more than 230 customers, half of which are outside the U.S. They include Chevron, IBM and Unilever. Sixty percent of sales are direct, while 40 percent flow through the channel, such as integrators and OEMs.
Tom Kaneshige also writes for Line56.com