The Customer Benefit of Implementing Data Integration Software
by Judith Hirwitz, CEO
Over the past several years, CIO’s have focused on cutting back on spending and making their organizations more efficient. Companies that have been successful in adding efficiency and have benefited by economic growth, are now ready to take the next steps and move towards leveraging technology to make their organizations more competitive. Corporate management is demanding that CIO’s begin to help transform the business through the innovative use of technology.
Hurwitz & Associates focuses on how companies have been successful through elevating the importance of transformation and innovation in their IT organizations. We recently completed a customer benefit study we call a GreenPaper. This study was sponsored by Ascential Software (its acquisition by IBM is expected to close during the second quarter of 2005) and was intended to determine how companies were using its data integration software as a way to support business growth. In order to insure that we received comprehensive, no holds barred information, no customer was identified; rather the information provided was presented in the aggregate. As part of this process, our analysts conducted in depth interviews with 17 Ascential customers. Some of the results could have been predicted in advance – most customers purchased the software as part of an overall corporate wide data integration strategy to centralize data stovepipes. However, we discovered some very interesting and profound benefits that customers were able to achieve.
We divided our findings into two categories: quantitative benefits and qualitative benefits. The quantitative benefits are more commonly generated through ROI analysis. We found some dramatic quantitative results including the fact that customers were able to reduce costs significantly and customers were able to get to market much faster than before the software was implemented.
On the qualitative side, we discovered that many of the companies in our sample benefited in profound ways that allowed IT to improve business processes. For example, customers found a dramatic increase in customer satisfaction and were actually able to generate revenue from the use of Ascential Software’s technology.
Quantitative Benefits: It’s all about speed
Customers found that the Ascential Software solutions enabled them to get their projects completed in a dramatically more efficient manner than they had been able to accomplish in the past. In many cases, customers had been relying on custom coding to achieve results. In addition, customers said that they improved their ability to innovate primarily because the elimination of many hours previously spent on manual coding and maintenance allowed for more creative use of IT development time.
Qualitative Benefits: It’s about business innovation
We found the qualitative capabilities of Ascential’s offering the most impressive from a business benefit perspective. For example, customer satisfaction level increased significantly. One reason for this improvement is due to an increase in data quality. Data quality is one of the most problematic issues for companies in general. In another unrelated survey of 85 companies conducted by Hurwitz & Associates we found that more than 80% of the respondents did not trust the quality of the data generated by their organization.
At the same time, the benefits derived from the movement to a service oriented architecture has meant that it is easier for customers to reuse previously created code. This job reuse has had a significant impact on companies. They are able to respond more quickly to meet customer expectations and add meaningful new capabilities much faster than they could in the past.
Many of the customers interviewed began by purchasing an ETL tool for use in a specific departmental business integration project. The immediate need was to help the IT department accomplish their goals faster and within budget constraints. All the customers interviewed by Hurwitz & Associates were overwhelmingly successful in meeting this goal. Because the success involving broad data integration efforts exceeded expectations, the number of project requests swelled. The Ascential Software customers elevated their productivity rate and were able to provide solutions that opened up new sources of revenue.
Typically, after an initial successful implementation, the use of Ascential Software’s products was broadened in scope to solve enterprise level problems. Benefits ranged from reduced time spent on manual coding to improvements in data quality, allowing companies to get new products and services to market faster. Better data quality also led to improvements in customer satisfaction and management decision-making
If you would like to see the full study, you can read it on the go follow this link to the Ascential Software website and click the “white papers” button. The study is titled “Ascential Software Customer Benefit Study”.