Interview with Dave Borean of InfoTrellis Discussing Veriscope and the Evolution of MDM Governance
On Data Quality Pro we recently added a new technology category for solutions that offer MDM Monitoring and Reporting.
As MDM solutions become more commonplace there is an increasing need to provide an overall analytics and governance capability to ensure the smooth operation of these systems.
The first company to populate this directory is InfoTrellis, a company that contains a number of founding fathers of MDM. So I invited Dave Borean, VP of Products at InfoTrellis, to talk a little bit more about the evolution of MDM and how their technology approaches these challenges.
Dylan Jones: Tell us a little about the background of InfoTrellis Dave – what is the history of the company and why the interest in MDM?
Dave Borean: You could say that the interest in MDM is inevitable, looking at our roots. The InfoTrellis founders were actually members of the original team of architects that developed the very first MDM platform as part of a company called DWL, which was quickly acquired by IBM, so our history with the philosophy behind Master Data Management and with the products themselves is quite intimate.
The co-founders left IBM in late 2007 to form InfoTrellis and since then we have grown significantly with offices in Toronto, Dallas, and Chennai. We pride ourselves in our many successful MDM engagements and have become trusted partners for a number of Fortune 500 companies in implementing their MDM programs.
In 2011 InfoTrellis returned to its roots of product development and in addition to its many large consulting engagements released the first version of the product that would eventually become MDM Veriscope, a first-of-kind master data analytics tool for the MDM hub, which of course you’re about to hear about.
Dylan Jones: Can you briefly introduce Veriscope to our readers and explain the core value that it brings to an MDM initiative?
Dave Borean: If you are going to manage something you first need to measure it. It is therefore reasonable to think that in order to properly manage master data (as the term MDM suggests) you need to measure it. Given this, MDM Veriscope is a product that evolved to address our clients’ most consistent business need to implement and sustain an MDM program – they needed transparency. MDM platforms just don’t come with the governance and analytical capabilities that our clients were asking for, and a lot of organizations were being forced to pour time and money into developing internal custom-built solutions to enable reporting and monitoring functionality around their MDM Hub.
This is the gap that MDM Veriscope has been built to fill: it’s a piece of additional technology that dramatically improves an organization’s ability to govern their MDM Hub by providing reporting and operational monitoring. It allows business users to verify the quality of their data and measure the impact that their MDM investment has had and continues to have on their organization, and it gives data stewardship teams the tools to confidently manage the data and effectively resolve and prevent data quality issues. Without a tool like Veriscope, MDM users are basically flying blind – and as a result they aren’t reaping the benefits from their MDM Hub that they could be.
Dylan Jones: The Veriscope literature states that you provide value to both Business and IT users, can you explain the feature split between the two?
Dave Borean: From a business perspective, MDM Veriscope will analyze and report on the data for three main dimensions. The first is quality so you can understand what quality issues you have, how resolution of those issues is trending, how the backlog is trending and ultimately being able to trace issues back to source where they should be addressed. As a simple example, if email addresses are important to the business to drive communication with customers, they want to be aware of how many email addresses are not properly formatted.
The second is change so you can understand what is happening to the data in the hub. How many records were de-duplicated? How many new or updated records are in in a particular period and how does that compare to past periods? Who is affecting the change? Using the email example, how many email addresses were added this month?
The third is composition. Data is brought together from multiple sources into the MDM hub and clients are often surprised on what the composition (or profile) of the data looks like in the hub. For example, how many email addresses do you have? How many does each customer have in average? How many customers have one unique email address? Two? Three?
Quality, change and composition reports and dashboards become a necessary tool to data stewards and data governance council members. Furthermore it provides insights into the consumers of the master data so that the MDM hub is not a “black box” and they can gain trust in what they are using.
From an IT perspective, MDM Veriscope will analyze and report on the transactions against the data for two main dimensions. The first is to understand and report on who is doing what in the hub. For example, you can see in a given period the transactions a particular consumer executes on the hub (such as a call center retrieving customer data), the failure rates and how the hub is meeting or failing their service level agreements.
The second is for performance metrics so that IT has the data they need to further tune the MDM hub, understand how different consumers are impacting the workload in the hub, which enables better capacity planning.
Dylan Jones: One of the questions I’m sure people may pose is “we’ve just invested considerable sums in our MDM technology, what is the justification for more expense?” – can you give some examples of how Veriscope has generated a positive ROI for past customers?
Dave Borean: Implementing and sustaining an MDM program requires a number of supporting tools. Certainly the MDM hub itself is the most expensive of these tools, whether it be IBM’s, Oracle’s, Informatica’s, or even from one of the niche vendors. Above and beyond that initial expense, it’s quite common to require ETL tools, quality tools, etc.
We built MDM Veriscope because there was a gap that existed in many MDM implementations. Clients either had to custom build something themselves to fill this gap or worse, ignore it altogether, which only comes back to haunt them. It generally starts off with something simple, like: “I need to understand if I am, in fact, increasing my address data quality – and I don’t even know how many bad addresses I have.” So they build something custom to track those metrics. Then you realize you have more needs. “Consumers are complaining they are getting slow response time and I don’t even know what workload they are putting on the MDM hub, or when and how often I am failing service level agreements.” So they build something custom to track those metrics. The questions continue, and the required customizations pile up.
It’s a case of “buy versus build” and buy is cheaper for our clients in these situations. The substantial ROI comes into play with the insights MDM Veriscope can provide on the data and operations of the hub. We’ve taken over a decade’s worth of MDM experience and folded it into the product in terms of pre-configured analytics and reports. It is, of course, possible to configure the product based on clients’ unique needs, but here are some examples from client engagements using out-of-the-box capabilities:
In one of our clients, MDM Veriscope detected a rising trend of increased failures from a particular source system, which pointed to a previously unknown issue in that source system. For another of our clients, a significant percentage of their email addresses in the hub were invalid (they were fake email addresses, phone numbers, notes and so on). They currently have no consumers using that information but have plans to in future – so they need a way to know what the issues are, how to resolve them, track their resolution and then do their best to resolve the issue in the source systems that are feeding the bad data. The third is a client that had tens of thousands of addresses that were not valid, which results not only in significant returned mail costs but also the lost upside of the mail not reaching the intended audience.
Dylan Jones: What existing MDM platforms can Veriscope support?
Dave Borean: MDM Veriscope was architected and built to be MDM platform agnostic and support the various styles of implementation such as registry, hybrid and centralized. We have tight integrations with some MDM platforms like IBM’s suite of products and Informatica Siperian and we are working with other MDM vendors to build out connectors.
A common question that comes up is “how does MDM Veriscope differ from profiling tools?” We didn’t set out to build another profiling tool, however MDM Veriscope does perform some specialized profiling in some quality and composition scans. However, MDM Veriscope does integrate with profiling tools like IBM’s Information Analyzer and Informatica’s Data Explorer and it complements the capabilities of those tools with trending information and reports that target business audiences.
Dylan Jones: What are some of the main gaps in functionality that Veriscope fulfills?
Dave Borean: The main gaps that the product fills is in providing metrics and insight into the master data itself and transactions against that master data so that you can properly manage the master data and trust it so it is used with confidence.
More specifically, it addresses concerns such as:
How is the master data changing?
What are the quality issues and how they are trending?
How is issue resolution and the resulting backlog trending?
What sources are contributing to quality issues?
What is the composition of the data?
Who is consuming the master data and how?
Are you meeting consumer SLAs?
What are opportunities for enhancing performance?
What is data stewards workload and their productivity?
Dylan Jones: The depth of reporting offered by Veriscope sounds quite intensive, what kind of benchmarks for performance have you witnessed out in the field?
Dave Borean: We’ve had the opportunity and privilege to work with some of the largest and most complex MDM implementations in the world and Veriscope was designed to meet the performance requirements of these clients, both in terms of the volume of their master data and the volume of transactions against their master data.
Performance of course always depends on many different factors, but we would expect a one hour window for Veriscope to synchronize required data, perform analytics on the data and produce reports. This would be for a typical client that has tens of millions of master data records (individuals, organizations, products, locations, and so on) and one million transactions a day against the MDM hub (querying and maintaining the data). Generating the actual reports and displaying data in the UI dashboards is done in a couple of seconds because Veriscope follows best practices in analytics in terms of aggregating data across various to facilitate better performance.
Dylan Jones: Can you share any plans for Veriscope in the future?
Dave Borean: When we first began the development process of MDM Veriscope, the entire roadmap of what the product capabilities needed to be was driven by feedback from our clients. Although a lot of the default scans and pre-configured reports were put together based on the best practices that InfoTrellis has established as a systems integrator, the foundation of the product has always been client-driven and it will continue to be client-driven throughout its evolution.
For example, MDM Veriscope 3.0, which we recently released, saw a major update to its user interface and its selection of dashboards, because those were the things being consistently asked for by actual users of the product. As we deploy this product with more and more clients, we continuously collect their feedback and let that dictate the direction for MDM Veriscope’s future versions. The essential capabilities for data quality governance are already highly polished at this stage, so the sort of changes that we anticipate will be enhancements to the way that the tool delivers and presents that information to its users and allows them to leverage those core capabilities.
Dylan Jones: How can people find out more?
Dave Borean: They can check out our product page on our website and view the available sample reports, but of course the best way to get a look at the interface “in person” and have any specific questions answered is to contact the InfoTrellis MDM Veriscope team directly at firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule a product demonstration.
About Dave Borean
Dave Borean is the Vice President of Products at InfoTrellis. He has over 17 years of experience working on the architecture and development of mission-critical enterprise applications in both the product and custom solution spaces. Dave came from IBM where he was a Senior Technical Staff Member responsible for leading the InfoSphere MDM portfolio of products and working directly with clients from around the world on some of the biggest and most complex MDM implementations.
At InfoTrellis, Dave heads the Products Division with a mandate of building new products in and around the MDM space in working with clients, partners and analysts. One such product is MDM Veriscope, designed to give clients the metrics and insights required to manage and optimize their master data. The second is AllSight, a next generation information product that applies MDM, DQM and governance principles to big data platforms and breaks down the barriers between unstructured and structured data, big and small data, and internal and external data, for use in real time and analytical processes.
InfoTrellis is a premier consulting and product development company within the information management space, continuously setting trends by leveraging expertise and comprehensive client relationships in the MDM and Big Data world.
They are driven by a passion for excellence in the four key areas of data management, data governance, next generation information management, and Big Data.
InfoTrellis team members are motivated to succeed while ensuring never to stray from their commitment to a factual and honest advisory relationship with all of their clients, maintaining a humble, down-to-earth style of conduct.
The pillars of their identity as a company are integrity, expertise, and innovation leading to long term relationships with both clients and team members.