Thursday, January 21, 2010

ETL, Data Quality and MDM for Mid-sized Business

Is data quality a luxury that only large companies should be able to afford?  Of course the answer is no. Your company should be paying attention to data quality no matter if you are a Fortune 1000 or a startup. Like a toothache, poor data quality will never get better on its own.

As a company naturally grows, the effects of poor data quality multiply.  When a small company expands, it naturally develops new IT systems. Mergers often bring in new IT systems, too. The impact of poor data quality slowly invades and hinders the company’s ability to service customers, keep the supply chain efficient and understand its own business. Paying attention to data quality early and often is a winning strategy for even the small and medium-sized enterprise (SME).

However, SME’s have challenges with the investment needed in enterprise level software. While it’s true that the benefit often outweighs the costs, it is difficult for the typical SME to invest in the license, maintenance and services needed to implement a major data integration, data quality or MDM solution.

At the beginning of this year, I started with a new employer, Talend. I became interested in them because they were offering something completely different in our world – open source data integration, data quality and MDM.  If you go to the Talend Web site, you can download some amazing free software, like:
  • a fully functional, very cool data integration package (ETL) called Talend Open Studio
  • a data profiling tool, called Talend Open Profiler, providing charts and graphs and some very useful analytics on your data
The two packages sit on top of a database, typically MySQL – also an open source success.

For these solutions, Talend uses a business model similar to what my friend Jim Harris has just blogged about – Freemium. Under this new model, free open source content is made available to everyone—providing the opportunity to “up-sell” premium content to a percentage of the audience. Talend works like this.  You can enhance your experience from Talend Open Studio by purchasing Talend Integration Suite (in various flavors).  You can take your data quality initiative to the next level by upgrading Talend Open Profiler to Talend Data Quality.

If you want to take the combined data integration and data quality to an even higher level, Talend just announced a complete Master Data Management (MDM) solution, which you can use in a more enterprise-wide approach to data governance. There’s a very inexpensive place to start and an evolutionary path your company can take as it matures its data management strategy.

The solutions have been made possible by the combined efforts of the open source community and Talend, the corporation. If you’d like, you can take a peek at some source code, use the basic software and try your hand at coding an enhancement. Sharing that enhancement with community will only lead to a world full of better data, and that’s a very good thing.


Jim Harris said...

First, congratulations on your new position Steve.

I had the opportunity to check out Talend at several industry conferences last year – and I have to say that I was very impressed with the products.

I will also admit that, like many in our industry, I was initially skeptical of the open source model.

Talend provided me with what seemed like a perfect opportunity to vent my skepticism since they offered tools in my specific areas of expertise.

Therefore, I visited those conference demo booths ready to be completely underwhelmed – and I was very pleasantly surprised!

Open source is the freemium model applied to the software industry, where it will not be as quickly disruptive as it has been with other industries (e.g., music, print journalism).

However, I have become a big advocate for freemium in general, and I believe the viable solutions (especially, as you noted, for small to medium sized businesses) that companies like Talend can offer (especially when combined with open source community collaboration) is a great thing for a world becoming so immersed in data that data quality has become more important than ever.

Best Regards,


P.S. Thanks for mentioning my blog post!

Dylan Jones said...

I wondered where you'd been, best of luck with the new move mate.

It's been interesting to watch the rise of Talend, from a professionally agnostic viewpoint they have certainly helped many organisations dip their toes into the choppy waters of data quality with their freemium model and I think this level of disruption is long overdue. I've seen at least one other serious vendor go down the freemium model recently so perhaps they've blazed a trail.

The reason of course is simple - it works!

The most popular download on Data Quality Pro in 2009 was my beginners guide to data profiling featuring, yep,Talend open profiler. Literally thousands of people have (hopefully!) developed some new skills as a result so this level of freemium is obviously a big bonus for the profession.

I can also see value in the open source model but for most I hazard a guess it's the low barrier to adoption, they've simply made it far easier for people to get started.

It's going to be a busy time for you I'm sure Steve but let's catch up when you get to the UK.

Steve Sarsfield said...

Thanks, guys. As you can imagine, I have been busy with closing out old business and picking up the new. I read once that you should never blog about being too busy to blog, so I haven't.
I'm sure this new business model will spawn new ideas about solving the data problem. There's still so much left to talk about, and I'm looking forward to it!

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed here are my own and don't necessarily reflect the opinion of my employer. The material written here is copyright (c) 2010 by Steve Sarsfield. To request permission to reuse, please e-mail me.