SAS Cleans Up with DataFlux Purchase

In late May, SAS Institute Inc. (www.sas.com) -- a software company that specializes in both decision support and data warehousing solutions -- acquired DataFlux Corp. (www.dataflux.com), a North Carolina-based purveyor of data quality control and similarity searching software. SAS’s acquisition is seen by some industry watchers as an example of the emerging importance of data cleansing as a strategic technology.

SAS currently provides its own extraction, transformation, and loading solutions for many its product offerings, but it hasn’t yet provided customers with a formalized data cleansing solution. That's where DataFlux’s Blue Fusion technology comes in. The technology can help companies to organize data in several standards formats, and can also identify and eliminate duplicate records and redundant data.

According to Jim Davis, director of product strategy at SAS, data quality control is an overlooked problem in many data warehousing environments.

"Poor data quality is one of the leading causes of data warehouse failure. It can compromise business decision making when those decisions are not made on [the basis of] quality, cleansed data," Davis explains.

Data quality control is a term that connotes the process of checking a database to ensure that all of its values are consistent and correctly recorded.

Proponents of data quality control software claim that such solutions can help companies wring valuable information out of bloated and sometimes poorly organized databases.

Organizations that rely on direct-marketing efforts, for example, often identify individual households by means of mailing addresses. A common problem with such a practice, however, is the inconsistent manner in which data is entered into a database or data warehouse.

Over a period of years, if an address is entered several times -- for instance, sometimes with "Avenue" spelled out, sometimes abbreviated Ave., or other slight inconsistencies -- a household may appear to have more than one address. Data quality control software can help reduce this problem.

DataFlux says its Blue Fusion technology can be applied to cleanse data of just about any type. It can be used in conjunction with e-commerce, customer relationship management (CRM), and with other software applications, as well. Most significantly, says Bob Brauer, co-founder and vice president of products at DataFlux, Blue Fusion is a natural fit for SAS’s decision support and data warehousing solutions.

"Addressing the need for accurate, reliable data for the delivery of time-critical business solutions is a priority for both SAS and DataFlux," Brauer says. "This technology integration will provide substantial value in the areas of data quality and cleansing solutions for data warehousing, CRM, and Web-enabled data-driven solutions."

According to Mike Schiff, director of data warehousing strategies at Current Analysis Inc. (www.currentanalysis.com), SAS’s acquisition of DataFlux highlights the emerging importance of data quality control software and of data cleansing as a business-critical technology. "[The SAS/DataFlux] acquisition supports the increasing industry recognition of the importance of data quality and the need for formal data cleansing solutions," Schiff says.

The data quality control marketplace is a contentious one, with specialists such as Firstlogic Inc. (www.firstlogic.com) and Vality Technology Inc. (www.vality.com) vying with DataFlux for share.