Ascential Software: Fear Factor

By Baselinemag  |  Posted 2003-12-01 Print this article Print

Ascential Software bought Vality Technology, known for its data-cleansing software, in 2002. Customers say service was shaky at first, but it's improved.

You couldn't blame customers of Vality Technology for worrying when the company was bought for $92 million by Ascential Software in 2002. Many had invested more than $100,000 in Vality's complex data-cleansing software. The fear: Ascential had little experience in scrubbing data.

Today, concerns have eased. Ascential continues to invest in the data-quality suite, called QualityStage, and added a data-profiling package, which analyzes files and databases for potential quality problems. Ascential has also enhanced its product lineup with an offering that detects data-quality problems in real time—as a customer is filling out fields on a Web site, for example—and allows for integration with applications such as customer-relationship management.

Support, shaky immediately after the buyout, has improved, customers say.

"As soon as we signed the contract [to buy Vality's software], we found out they were being bought, and we got pretty nervous," says Sergio Bouscoulet, operations manager at non-profit relief organization Save the Children, which uses QualityStage to cleanse millions of donor records. "Support went down for a period, but it's come back."

When transportation firm Landstar System looked for software to cleanse information before pumping it into a new data warehouse, the company tested how fast several vendors could get their applications up and running.

"Several of them weren't able to pass the proof-of-concept, but Ascential had no problems," says Patrick Wise, Landstar's vice president of advanced technology.

Unlike products from rivals, QualityStage uses matching algorithms that sort through a wide variety of data—not just names and addresses.

Manufacturer Schindler Elevator uses QualityStage's GeoLocator not only to correct customer addresses, but also to pinpoint their locations. That helps Schindler supervisors more efficiently plan the routes of 2,000 service technicians. Schindler senior project leader Fred Blakeley says the company now needs fewer service technicians. "The software paid for itself in less than a year." he says.

For its part, Ascential is now making it easier for customers of its integration software, DataStage, to use QualityStage. The latest version of the software allows administrators to run data integration and quality jobs from the same interface, using common commands.

Ascential Software
50 Washington St., Westboro, MA 01581
(508) 366-3888 www.ascentialsoftware.com

Ticker: ASCL
Exchange: NASDAQ
Employees: 900

Peter Gyenes
Chairman, CEO
Was CEO of Informix Corp. in 2001 when that company sold its database product line to IBM and retained its data- management software business under the name of Ascential.

Peter Fiore
Oversaw company's transition from Informix to Ascential and its focus on data integration.

Mark W. Register
Chief Marketing Officer
Oversees marketing programs, global technology alliances.

QualityStage consists of modules for verifying addresses worldwide, and formatting address information so that mass mailings receive discounts from postal services. The suite includes Geo-Locator, which appends data used for geographical location. DataStage provides for instantaneous updates of data.

Reference Checks

Premera Blue Cross
Marcia Seys
Systems Consultant
(425) 918-4000
Project: Uses QualityStage on its mainframe to cleanse patient admission and history data.

Save the Children
Edward Granger-Happ
(203) 221-4289
Project: Deploys QualityStage to purge duplicates and inaccuracies from the non-profit's million-record donor database. Plans to add real-time capabilities.

First American Real Estate Solutions
Fran Stevens
VP, Information Technology
Project: Uses DataStage data-integration software to pull together real-estate transaction data from 3,000 counties nationwide and put them in a common format.

Landstar System
Patrick Wise
VP, Advanced Technology
(904) 390-6656
Project: QualityStage is part of a large data-warehouse project which, for the first time, brings together financial and other data generated by three separate trucking operations.

Allied Office Products
Ken DesRochers
Senior VP, I.T.
(973) 594-3525
Project: Office- product retailer uses DataStage to collect data about customer accounts from the Web, mainframe applications and salesforce.com's hosted applications.

Schindler Elevator
Fred Blakeley
Senior Project Leader
Project: Uses GeoLocator software to improve quality of customer address information stored in SAP R/3 application.

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


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