By Baselinemag  |  Posted 2006-06-12 Print this article Print

The auto data aggregator ditched its mainframe, spending more than $20 million to build a data factory. Was it worth it?

.L. Polk & Co. Base Case">

R.L. Polk & Co. Base Case

HEADQUARTERS: 26955 Northwestern Hwy., Southfield, MI 48034
PHONE: (248) 728-7000
BUSINESS: Collects and sells vehicle sales and registration data.
REVENUE, 2005: $275 million (Baseline estimate)
CHALLENGES: Improve efficiency and speed up the process of
turning raw data into packaged information products.


  • Reduce time to process incoming data by 50% from 2004 to 2006.
  • Cut administrative costs by 50% over the same period.
  • Strive for 100% data accuracy over the same period.

    Inside the Data factory
    R.L. Polk's new data-processing system uses a service-oriented architecture to coordinate tasks among several discrete clusters of servers.

    • Data is fed from 260 different sources.
    • Software converts the data into standard eXtensible Markup Language documents.
    • Service-orchestration software evaluates each XML document and determines which elements need additional processing (i.e., appending ZIP+4 code).
    • At the same time, data-quality software compares incoming information with a historical profile of what's normal for that type of data; exceptions are investigated.
    • Processed data is inserted into a database repository, Polk's single source of truth; from there, information is extracted into separate data warehouses for customer to access.


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