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DataFlux was a small data quality company of around a dozen employees in 2000 when it was acquired by SAS. Companies often like to portray grand strategic thinking when it comes to purchases, but this one got started because a SAS executive was caught in a snowstorm and shared a long rental car ride with a DataFlux employee; shortly afterwards SAS came to call with their cheque book. From these unlikely beginnings DataFlux has emerged as a powerhouse in the data quality market, with 1,200 corporate customers now making it one of the leading vendors in the space. It has flourished through its ease of use, meaning that business analysts can supply rules rather than it having to be done by IT people, and because the DataFlux technology stack has been built up organically, so there are no awkward technical integration issues to address with purchased components.
The vendor offers a full range of data quality features, from data profiling, through data de-duplication, matching, merging and enrichment, through to data quality reporting and monitoring. It partners with local data providers to provide additional address-related information e.g. for addresses in India, and also provides “accelerators” which are essentially bundles of pre-built data quality rules for common situations.
In 2006 DataFlux added a customer hub to assist those customers embarking on master data management initiatives. This hub is still in its early stages, but a major release is expected in late summer 2008. Certainly the trends towards master data governance and compliance in recent years have meant that data quality has emerged from an obscure backroom occupation to one which has the attention of business executives, and DataFlux has taken advantage of this, mostly in North America but also in Europe and, more recently, Asia Pacific.
DataFlux is one of a number of data quality vendors that have been acquired by larger vendors over the last few years (e.g. Similarity Systems by Informatica, First Logic by Business Objects, Vality by Ascential). Often software acquisitions do not go well, with larger parent companies sometimes having quite different cultures from the small, nimble companies they bought, and there are often issues in integrating new products into existing sales channels. These “daddy issues” can often derail the success of acquisitions, or at the very least cause delays while the smaller company is digested. The DataFlux/SAS combination has been an unusually happy one, and DataFlux will naturally appear now on any data quality vendor shortlist as one of the leading players.