We at diginomica speak to dozens, if not hundreds, of enterprise buyers each year about various different types of projects and technology implementations. The one challenge that almost every buyer highlights as a blocker to success? Data.
Cleaning data, matching data, understanding data, moving data, contextualising data. The list of challenges is endless. However, almost all buyers also agree that getting to grips with your data is key to gaining a competitive advantage in a digital landscape.
And Precisely - formerly known as Syncsort - believes that it has an opportunity in the market to help enterprises add integrity to their data. We got the chance to sit down with Precisely CEO Josh Rogers this week, who explained that after the recent acquisition of Pitney Bowes' data business in December, it was time to rebrand and refocus on this topic. Rogers said:
We thought with the closing of that acquisition it was the right time to rethink the core message of the business because the value proposition has shifted. We've moved from being a specialised data integration provider, to helping you get data out of these legacy systems, to being a market leader in data integrity. Meaning we will help you make that data fit for purpose. We will make it accurate, we will make it consistent.
By way of background, Syncsort actually dates back to 1968, where it started out as a data integration tool that helped move data around the mainframe. The company has been through a number of transitions over the decades, but is now primarily focused on this topic of data integrity.
Precisely has 12,000 customers, including 90 of the Fortune 100. Rogers also claims that 82% of the company's revenue is recurring. On the company's proposition, Rogers explained:
We saw a little bit of white space, or an underserved market, around this notion of data integrity. The two firms that we compete against the most are Informatica and Talend. But when you look at those firms, they certainly have data quality capabilities, but they tend to be deeper in the data integration space. But we are now kind of the opposite.
Most of our business is focused on how to deliver data integrity. Data quality is scanning the data for problems, cleaning it up, but what we can do is bring in the notion of location and data enrichment [resulting in data integrity]. I think this is powerful because it's something that customers need.
The value in integrity
Precisely defines ‘data integrity' as a combination of the following attributes:
Integrate - connect today's infrastructure with newer technology to unlock all of an enterprise's data;
Verify - help ensure data is accurate, consistent, and complete for confident business decisions;
Locate - analyze location data for enhanced, actionable business insights that drive superior outcomes;
Enrich - power enhanced decision-making with expertly curated, up-to-date business, location, and consumer data; and
Engage - create seamless, meaningful, omni-channel customer experiences using personalized video, chatbot, digital, mobile, and self-service capabilities.
Rogers said that most new customers are coming to Precisely because they are trying to deliver a new analytic or service capability to customers or internal consumers. They're trying to understand how to source the right data to support that and then figure out how to make sure that data is accurate, consistent and enriched.
He gave an example of a telco customer that is using Precisely's technology to roll out an analytics app to consumers that want information about 5G availability in their area. The service requires accurate and timely information from a variety of sources including network availability, location and performance data.
Commenting on the typical process a company goes through to achieving ‘data integrity', Rogers said:
The first step is to scan the data, which is usually referred to as data discovery or data profiling. Generally what you're doing there is trying to get a sense of the shapes and patterns in the data. That allows you to spot outliers, missing fields. And then we give you the ability to fix those issues. Generally the approach customers want to take is they know their business, they would like to apply specific rules - anytime you see this type of error or outlier, either make an automated change or route that change to a data steward.
We help customers understand that data as well we help them automate the improvement on that data. More and more we will start to leverage machine learning to automatically suggest those rules and make those improvements.
The next step is to think about how you enrich that data. For example, I've got a business and an address, how can I get more detail around the location of that address, the boundaries of a neighbourhood, the points of interest near that address.
The ‘data' market is a crowded one and we often speak to customers that struggle to get to grips with what tools they need and where. It's easy to understand why, given that many enterprises are grappling with decades worth of mess, trapped in siloed systems and no clear objective of how it should be used. However, something rings true about Precisely's proposition - most of those customers we speak to do want to be able to trust their data. And for trust, you need integrity. Building anything on top of untrustworthy data is a fruitless exercise. We look forward to speaking to some Precisely customers to get a clear understanding of the benefits gleaned.