Firstlogic: Data DetergentBy Baselinemag | Posted 2005-06-10 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 ChoicePointwhich is a Firstlogic customereven 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 milesometimes 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."
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
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