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Global Data Excellence is a Geneva-based company founded in 2007, though it has been marketing its core product since 2016. This data governance solution, Data Excellence Management System-Natural Intelligence eXpanded Universe System or DEMS-NIXUS, is very unusual in that it was designed from the outset to be based on an artificial intelligence approach, in this case a proprietary linguistic and metasemantic AI developed by one of the founders based on work done in his doctorate. The product has a natural language interface and initially builds a model a company’s data based on analysing the metadata of file systems such as corporate databases. This forms the basis for a map of corporate data structure, supplemented by data profiling that shows various characteristics of the data. The tool is not restricted to relational databases. It can analyse application metadata too, such as the structure of SAP, Oracle applications and Salesforce.
Once this process of discovery has been done, the tool can be used to set up corporate policies and assign data ownership, including support for workflow such as assigning tasks to data stewards or highlighting data that does not fit within the policies defined. DEMS-NIXUS also has data quality functionality to, for example, to detect potential duplicate records and highlight data that does not conform to defined business rules.
Business users can interact with the product using a pure natural language interface, and can ask questions about their data in plain English (or other languages). A range of diagrams show the structure of the data and the relationships between data elements, and allow users to check where data is sourced, the data owners (if assigned) and much more. The semantic graph capability seems quite powerful in terms of letting users understand the nature of their data. Indeed even the ability to navigate the notoriously complex structures of ERP systems like SAP is in itself a useful piece of functionality in its own right. The data governance tool does not attempt to move data around the enterprise. Instead it sits as a semantic layer above the various corporate databases, files and their assorted catalogues and metadata.
The product has a lot of functionality and has proven use cases in a number of large, well-known organisations such as Bacardi. The company has so far been heavily driven by research and development, and has thus far devoted few resources to marketing and sales. Odd though it seems in 2023, the company was founded back in 2007 at the end of the so called second AI winter, when AI was widely distrusted as a technology due to overly high expectations that had not been met. This presumably slowed down commercial progress, clearly times have changed, and since the broad release of ChatGPT in particular, things have swung full circle and now AI is ultra-fashionable. Hopefully this more favourable environment will enable GDE to progress in scale from its current rather modest customer base. Software companies need innovative products, but they also need active sales and marketing to grow. The next year or so will show whether GDE can develop the sales and marketing execution skills to bring its genuinely intriguing technology to a wider audience.