Firstlogic: Data Detergent

By Baselinemag  |  Posted 2005-06-10 Print this article Print

Can you automate accuracy? Firstlogic tries.

Is your company's data a useless mess? Firstlogic is one of several providers of software programs that scour information, find dirt and clean up what they can.

For example, Firstlogic's software can figure out that "James Q. Smith" is the same person identified in another database as "Smith, Jim" if, say, both entries have the same address. The software can then merge the records to provide a single, consolidated view of that person's information.

But no software can eliminate every error. As shown by ChoicePoint—which is a Firstlogic customer—even one mistake in an otherwise pristine set of data can have dire consequences. "You can clean to a 99% accuracy rate, but it's the 1% you can't correct that you're held to," says Daniel Ballard, vice president of data analytics for Dendrite International, which provides data cleansing and analysis services to pharmaceutical companies.

Dendrite uses Firstlogic's software to scan a database of 1.5 million doctors and the prescriptions they write, obtained from multiple pharmacy chains. But even using Firstlogic to sniff out the bad data, about 10% of the records Dendrite receives from partners must be fixed by hand. "The real problem children need manual intervention," Ballard says.

Data-quality software is a relatively small market, totaling $297 million in sales worldwide in 2004, says Forrester Research. The field is also consolidating: IBM bought Ascential Software this year for $1.1 billion; last year, mailing equipment maker Pitney Bowes snapped up Group 1 Software.

Now Firstlogic could be ripe for the picking. Potential suitors include Informatica, SAP and Siebel Systems, each of which has a development partnership with Firstlogic. "The spotlight is definitely on Firstlogic," says Gartner's Ted Friedman. "They're one of the market-share leaders that's still truly independent." (Firstlogic declined to make any executives available to interview for this story.)

Firstlogic customers say its solo status makes the company go the extra mile—sometimes literally. CoBank, a commercial financing bank in Denver, uses Firstlogic's IQ Insight to analyze customer loan data. Cynthia Livingston, senior data architect at CoBank, says her team had "a little bump" installing the software in November 2004 because the documentation for configuring it for Oracle databases was incomplete. Firstlogic quickly dispatched a senior technical support staff member from its La Crosse, Wis., headquarters to CoBank's offices and fixed the problem.

"They're small," Livingston says, "and because of that, they care about their customers."

Data Detergent

100 Harborview Plaza
La Crosse, WI 54601
(608) 782-5000

TICKER: Privately held


Eric J. Lieberman
Joined the company in 1996 as general counsel; promoted to president in 1998.

Information Quality Suite includes software that analyzes data sets to find errors and inconsistencies; consolidates duplicate records; fixes incorrect address and other information based on rules; and can append additional information (such as phone numbers) to records. IQ Insight presents data-quality analysis in formatted reports. Postalsoft corrects address data and eliminates duplicate entries for mass mailings.

Reference Checks

Cynthia Livingston
Senior Data Architect
(303) 694-5925
Project: Denver commercial lending bank uses IQ Insight to analyze data in 100 files that have information on 2,500 high-value customers.

Bear Creek
Mark Madsen
Mgr., Decision Support
Project: Mail-order food and gift company, whose brands include Harry and David, uses Postalsoft to standardize addresses and purge duplicate names for its catalog mailings.

University of Utah
Bryan Harman
Asst. Dir., Employee & Student Systems
Project: University is using IQ Suite to find duplicates among 500,000 IDs in its PeopleSoft student information and human-resources system.

Dendrite International
Daniel Ballard
VP, Data Analytics
(919) 549-0270
Project: Data management services firm uses IQ Suite to standardize names and addresses in a database of 1.5 million doctors.

Erickson Retirement Communities
José Roig
Dir., I.T.
(410) 242-2880
Project: Operator of retirement homes cleans up 10,000 leads each month with IQ Suite before they're loaded into a Siebel Systems customer relationship management system.

Orlando Sentinel Communications
Roy Bova
Mgr., Database Technology
(407) 420-5019
Project: Florida newspaper publisher standardizes new subscribers' names and addresses with Firstlogic software, which checks a database of 3 million local residents.

Executives listed here are all users of Firstlogic's products. Their willingness to talk has been confirmed by Baseline.

REVENUE: $54.2M in 2004 (Hoover's est.)

La Crosse, Wis. (headquarters); Hoffman Estates, Ill.; Littleton, Colo.

Business Objects, Informatica, Oracle, SAP, Siebel Systems, Teradata

Harte-Hanks' Trillium Software, IBM's Ascential Software, Innovative Systems, Pitney Bowes' Group 1 Software, SAS' DataFlux


Financial: Charles Schwab, CoBank, Deutsche Bank

Travel: Carnival Cruise Lines, Travelocity

Media: HSN, The New York Times Co., Orlando Sentinel Communications

Government: FBI, Federal Election Commission, U.S. Navy, U.S. Census Bureau

Manufacturing: ConAgra Foods, Johnson & Johnson, PepsiAmericas, Saab Cars USA Company Milestones

Founded, as Postalsoft

Releases first commercial software

Changes name to Firstlogic

Gets software certification for Oracle, PeopleSoft and SAP applications

Forms federal division to market to government agencies

Sources: company reports, hoover's, Baseline research


Submit a Comment

Loading Comments...
eWeek eWeek

Have the latest technology news and resources emailed to you everyday.