Technology -> Data Management
By: Andy Hayler, CEO, The Information Difference
Published: 31st March 2010
Copyright The Information Difference © 2010
On March 25th 2010, TIBCO announced the acquisition of Netrics, a data quality vendor. Netrics is an unusual company in that it focuses entirely on matching technology, and the product was designed from the outset to operate in OEM form i.e. to be embedded in other applications. Several master data management (MDM) vendors (TIBCO, Kalido, Data Foundations and Riversand) do this, bundling the Netrics matching engine within their MDM applications.
Just about every data quality vendor out there has a matching capability, but most use rules-based approaches or standard algorithms to detect matches between records (or at least to assign a score of the likelihood of a match). Netrics has a very specific approach (based on a mathematical approach called bipartite graphs) which was capable of dealing with very "dirty" data, and meant that you do not have to spend time setting up specific business rules, which allows rapid deployment.
A separate Netrics product takes a machine learning approach to data quality, training a matching engine alongside a domain expert to see what the expert's assessment on matches is, and then to be able to replicate that behaviour. Usually a couple of days of observation/training is sufficient for the software to be able to learn from the domain expert how to apply business-specific knowledge to matching, without having to explicitly define individual rules.
I have been following Netrics for some time, and ever since I saw a demo of its capabilities by its founder (in a grotty hotel room at Heathrow airport as I recall) I was impressed by its ability to find potential matches even in heavily distorted data. I have also spoken to some of Netrics' OEM customers, who have found the product not only works well, but was easy to embed in their applications, unlike some other products they had considered. Netrics had around 200 customers, and is strong in government and healthcare.
The acquisition is a good exit for the Netrics shareholders, and they gain access to TIBCO's vastly larger sales channel, and the ability to up-sell into the large TIBCO customer base. TIBCO gains a state-of-the-art matching engine that it can use to complement its existing products. The Netrics staff will stay on as a separate unit within TIBCO, headed by Netrics founder Stefanos Damianakis and reporting to the Emerging Technology division. In conversations with the company, at this stage there are no plans to interfere with the OEM relationships that Netrics had established, and indeed it is not in TIBCO's interests to do so; it is likely that they will continue as before, at least in the short to medium term.
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Published by: IT Analysis Communications Ltd.
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