Data Quality on Display at TDWI Orlando; Acquisition of Firstlogic on Hold?

Similarity Systems and Firstlogic have a lot more riding on their new data quality products than first meets the eye.

At last week’s TDWI Orlando show, data quality specialists Similarity Systems Inc. and Firstlogic (not yet a subsidiary of Pitney Bowes Inc.) touted new data profiling and data quality offerings. While that might not sound like earth-shattering news, both vendors have a lot more riding on these products than meets the eye.

For Similarity Systems, the latest release of its AXIO data profiling product is an important one, and not because AXIO 5.0 ships with a bevy of new features or enhancements. Several months ago, Similarity Systems became an overnight force to be reckoned with in the data quality segment, snapping up troubled Evoke Software. With the acquisition, Similarity shot for synergy, hoping that the combination of its ATHANOR data quality technology with Evoke’s AXIO data profiling software would provide compelling differentiation in a crowded data quality marketplace. So with last week’s AXIO 5.0 release, all eyes—at least, the eyes of most ANTHOR and AXIO users—were on Similarity Systems.

“This release… is … a fairly important one for Similarity Systems. It highlights the fact that the company has strong data profiling technology that it continues to enhance,” says Rob Lerner, a senior analyst for data management with consultancy Current Analysis. In fact, Lerner notes, Evoke had been a less-than-attentive steward to its AXIO technology, at least in recent years.

But if there’s synergy to be had, it almost seems as if Similarity Systems wants to keep it under wraps, Lerner says. “[I]f this is an important announcement to Similarity Systems, one couldn’t tell from the announcement itself. The company is light on the details, even when it notes some of the enhancements, which seem to be a tighter integration with ATHANOR, … a new front end, and report capabilities from Crystal Reports,” he comments.

The revamped AXIO does ship with an upgraded front-end, which Similarity Systems says should help improve usability. It also incorporates architectural enhancements that company officials claim will help improve the execution of multiple (concurrent) profiling tasks. In addition, AXIO 5.0 features new database connectivity options and better integration with ATHANOR.

By almost any objective analysis, Similarity Systems has a lot to gain by talking up the complementary aspects of ATHANOR and AXIO. “AXIO is critical to Similarity Systems because it broadens the company’s data profiling capabilities,” Lerner observes, noting that AXIO is a “strong, deep” data profiling technology. “The release of this version should help [Similarity Systems] highlight this technology and the fact that it does have a play in [the North American] market.”

Firstlogic’s IQ Watch

Also at TDWI Orlando, Firstlogic announced IQ Watch, a compliance-oriented product that’s designed to help manage interdiction list compliance. IQ Watch taps Firstlogic’s data cleansing and matching capabilities to compare customers and transactions with government interdiction lists to ensure compliance with OFAC, FBI lists, Bureau of Industry and Security lists, Security Council of the United Nations (UN) Consolidated List, World Bank Debarred Parties List, as well as lists from OSFI, DTC, EU, FATF NCCT, FinCEN, and OCC.

Lerner says IQ Watch makes a lot of sense—so much sense, in fact, that it can hardly claim to be first to market. “While this should be a good solution for the company in a number of ways, Firstlogic is nevertheless not the only data quality vendor with such a solution. Moreover, the acquisition by Pitney Bowes has been postponed, and this could impact the uptake of the offering.”If nothing else, IQ Watch could help to shore up Firstlogic’s position in the regulatory compliance arena, Lerner suggests.

And given the uncertainty of that company’s position as a part of Pitney Bowes—see below—IQ Watch seems like a smart move. “The demand, and the money spent on regulatory compliance, is significant and growing… and Firstlogic may be able to use this solution to strengthen its position in this market, as well as leverage its technology and expertise to partner with any number of vendors addressing regulatory compliance that may not have a list cleansing service or, more importantly, data quality support.”

Acquisition on Hold?

Several months ago, direct mail and campaign management specialist Pitney-Bowes announced plans to acquire Firstlogic, adding that company to its existing Group1 data quality assets. Now the acquisition appears to be on hold, says Lerner. “Firstlogic’s acquisition by Pitney Bowes has been postponed. The details are sketchy, and it is not clear how this will play out, but it could cause concerns among both customers and prospects in terms of distraction and what the future holds for Firstlogic,” he writes, citing an October 31st, 2005 announcement on Firstlogic’s Web site, which disclosed that the FTC had requested additional information from Pitney Bowes.

About the Author

Stephen Swoyer is a Nashville, TN-based freelance journalist who writes about technology.

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