Category Archives: B2B

Happy Holidays, Happy HoliData.

Happy Holidays, Happy HoliData

In case you have missed our #HappyHoliData series on Twitter and LinkedIn, I decided to provide a short summary of best practices which are unleashing information potential. Simply scroll and click on the case study which is relevant for you and your business. The series touches on different industries and use cases. But all have one thing in common: All consider information quality as key value to their business to deliver the right services or products to the right customer.

HappyHoliData_01 HappyHoliData_02 HappyHoliData_03 HappyHoliData_04 HappyHoliData_05 HappyHoliData_06 HappyHoliData_07 HappyHoliData_08 HappyHoliData_09 HappyHoliData_10 HappyHoliData_11 HappyHoliData_12 HappyHoliData_13 HappyHoliData_14 HappyHoliData_15 HappyHoliData_16 HappyHoliData_17 HappyHoliData_18 HappyHoliData_19 HappyHoliData_20 HappyHoliData_21 HappyHoliData_22 HappyHoliData_23 HappyHoliData_24

Thanks a lot to all my great teammates, who made this series happen.

Happy Holidays, Happy HoliData.

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Posted in B2B, B2B Data Exchange, Banking & Capital Markets, Big Data, CIO, CMO, Customers, Data Governance, Data Quality, Enterprise Data Management, Financial Services, Governance, Risk and Compliance, Manufacturing, Master Data Management, PaaS, PiM, Product Information Management, Retail, SaaS | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Salesforce Lightning Connect and OData: What You Need to Know

Salesforce Lightning Connect and OData

Salesforce Lightning Connect and OData

Last month, Salesforce announced that they are democratizing integration through the introduction of Salesforce1 Lightning Connect. This new capability makes it possible to work with data that is stored outside of Salesforce using the same force.com constructs (SOQL, Apex, VisualForce, etc) that are used with Salesforce objects. The important caveat is that that external data has to be available through the OData protocol, and the provider of that protocol has to be accessible from the internet.

I think this new capability, Salesforce Lightning Connect, is an innovative development and gives OData, an OASIS standard, a leg-up on its W3C-defined competitor Linked Data. OData is a REST-based protocol that provides access to data over the web. The fundamental data model is relational and the query language closely resembles what is possible with stripped-down SQL. This is much more familiar to most people than the RDF-based model using by Linked Data or its SPARQL query language.

Standardization of OData has been going on for years (they are working on version  4), but it has suffered from a bit of a chicken-egg problem. Applications haven’t put a large priority on supporting the consumption of OData because there haven’t been enough OData providers, and data providers haven’t prioritized making their data available through OData because there haven’t been enough consumers. With Salesforce, a cloud leader declaring that they will consume OData, the equation changes significantly.

But these things take time – what does someone do who is a user of Salesforce (or any other OData consumer) if most of their data sources they have cannot be accessed as an OData provider? It is the old last-mile problem faced by any communications or integration technology. It is fine to standardize, but how do you get all the existing endpoints to conform to the standard. You need someone to do the labor-intensive work of converting to the standard representation for lots of endpoints.

Informatica has been in the last-mile business for years. As it happens, the canonical model that we always used has been a relational model that lines up very well with the model used by OData. For us to host an OData provider for any of the data sources that we already support, we only needed to do one conversion from the internal format that we’ve always used to the OData standard. This OData provider capability will be available soon.

But there is also the firewall issue. The consumer of the OData has to be able to access the OData provider. So, if you want Salesforce to be able to show data from your Oracle database, you would have to open up a hole in your firewall that provides access to your database. Not many people are interested in doing that – for good reason.

Informatica Cloud’s Vibe secure agent architecture is a solution to the firewall issue that will also work with the new OData provider. The OData provider will be hosted on Informatica’s Cloud servers, but will have access to any installed secure agents. Agents require a one-time install on-premise, but are thereafter managed from the cloud and are automatically kept up-to-date with the latest version by Informatica . An agent doesn’t require a port to be opened, but instead opens up an outbound connection to the Informatica Cloud servers through which all communication occurs. The agent then has access to any on-premise applications or data sources.

OData is especially well suited to reading external data. However, there are better ways for creating or updating external data. One problem is that Salesforce only handles reads, but even when it does handle writes, it isn’t usually appropriate to add data to most applications by just inserting records in tables. Usually a collection of related information must to be provided in order for the update to make sense. To facilitate this, applications provide APIs that provide a higher level of abstraction for updates. Informatica Cloud Application Integration can be used now to read or write data to external applications from with Salesforce through the use of guides that can be displayed from any Salesforce screen. Guides make it easy to generate a friendly user interface that shows exactly the data you want your users to see and to guide them through the collection of new or updated data that needs to be written back to your app.

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Posted in B2B, Business Impact / Benefits, Cloud, Cloud Computing, Cloud Data Integration, Data Governance | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Informatica Rev: Data Democracy At Last – Part 2

This is a continuation from Part 1 of the Blog which you can read here.

Now, if you are in IT, reading about how Informatica Rev enables the everyday business users in your company to participate in the Data Democracy might feel like treachery. You are likely thinking that Informatica is letting the bull loose in your own fine china shop. You likely feel, first of all, that Informatica is supporting the systemic bypass of all the data governance that IT has worked hard to put in place and then second of all, that Informatica is supporting the alienation of the very IT people that have approved of and invested in Informatica for decades.

While I can understand this thought process I am here to, proudly, inform you that your thoughts cannot be further from the truth! In fact, in the not too distant future, Informatica is in a very strong position to create a very unique technology solution to ensure you can better govern all the data in your enterprise and do it in a way that will allow you to proactively deliver the right data to the business, yes, before the masses of everyday business users have started to knock your door down to even ask for it. Informatica’s unique solution will ensure the IT and Business divide that has existed in your company for decades, actually becomes a match made in heaven. And you in IT get the credit for leading this transformation of your company to a Data Democracy. Listen to this webinar to hear Justin Glatz, Executive Director of Information Technology at Code Nast speak about how he will be leading Conde Nast’s transformation to Data Democracy.

Data Democracy At Last

Data Democracy At Last

“How?” you might ask. Well, first let’s face it, today you do not have any visibility into how the business is procuring and using most data, and therefore you are not governing most of it. Without a change in your tooling, your ability to gain this visibility is diminishing greatly, especially since the business does not have to come to you to procure and use their cloud based applications.  By having all of your everyday business users use Informatica Rev, you, for the first time will have the potential to gain a truly complete picture of how data is being used in your company. Even the data they do not come to you to procure.

In the not too distant future, you will gain this visibility through an IT companion application to Informatica Rev. You will then gain the ability to easily operationalize your business user’s exact transformation logic or Recipe as we call it in Informatica Rev, into your existing repositories be they your enterprise data warehouse, datamart or master data management repository for example. And by-the-way you are likely already using Informatica PowerCenter or Informatica Cloud or Informatica MDM to manage these repositories anyway so you already have the needed infrastructure we will be integrating Informatica Rev with. And if you are not using Informatica for managing these repositories, the draw of becoming proactive with your business and leading the transformation of your company to a Data Democracy will be enough to make you want to go get Informatica.

Just as these Professionals have found success by participating in the Data Democracy, with Informatica Rev you finally can do so, too. You can try Informatica Rev for free by clicking here.

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Posted in B2B, B2B Data Exchange, Data First, Data Governance | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Informatica Rev: Data Democracy At Last – Part I

Data Democracy At Last

Data Democracy At Last

Informatica Cloud Data Preparation has launched! Those are the words we aspired to hear, the words that served as our rallying cry, when all we had was an idea coupled with a ton of talent, passion and drive. Well, today, we launch Informatica Rev, as business users refer to it. (Check out the press release here.)

As we launch today, we now have over 3,500 individual users across over 800 logos. These users are everyday business users who just want to improve the speed and quality of their business decisions. And by doing so, they help their corporation find success in the marketplace. And in turn they also find success in their own careers. You can hear more from Customers talking about their experience using Informatica Rev during our December 16 Future of Work webinar.

These users are people who, previously, were locked out of the exclusive Data Club because they did not have the time to be excel jocks or know how to code. But now, these are people who have found success by turning their backs on this Club and aggressively participating in the Data Democracy.

And they are able to finally participate in the “Data Democracy” because of Informatica Rev. You can try Informatica Rev for free by clicking here.

These people play every conceivable role in the information economy. They are marketing managers, marketing operations leads, tradeshow managers , sales people, sales operations leads, accounting  analysts, recruiting leads, benefits managers, to mention a few.  They work for large companies to small/mid-size companies and even sole proprietorships. They are even IT leads who might have more technical knowledge than their business counterparts, but are increasingly getting barraged by requests from their business side counterparts, and are just looking to be more productive with these requests. Let’s take a peek into how Informatica Rev allows them to participate in the Data Democracy, and changes their lives for the better.

Before Informatica Rev, a marketing analyst was simply unable to respond to rapid changes to competitor prices because by the time the competitor pricing data was assembled by people or tools they relied on, the competitor prices changed. This lead to lost revenue opportunities for the company. I almost don’t need to state that this end result is not an insignificant repercussion of the inability to respond at the rapid pace of business.

Let’s explore what a marketing analyst does today. When a file with competitor prices was received by the analyst, the initial questions they ask were “Which of my SKUs is each competitive price for?” and ”Do the prices vary by some geography”  and to answer these questions, they use Excel VLOOKUPS and some complex macros. By the time the Excel work is done, if they know what a VLOOKUP is, the competitor data is old. Therefore, at some point, there was no reason to continue this analysis and just accept the inability to capture this revenue.

With Informatica Rev, a Marketing Analyst can use Intelligent Guidance to understand the competitor data file to determine its completeness and then with Smart Combine easily combine the competitor data with their own. This is with no code, formal training, and in a few minutes all by themselves. And with Tableau as their BI tool, they can then use the Export to TDE capability to seamlessly export to Tableau to analyze trends in price changes to decide on their strategy. Voila!

Before Informatica Rev, a tradeshow manager used to spend an inordinate amount of time trying to validate leads so that they could then load them into a Marketing Automation System. After a tradeshow, time is of the essence and leads need to be processed rapidly otherwise they will decay, and fewer opportunities will result for the company. Again, I almost don’t need to state that this end result is not an insignificant repercussion of the inability to respond at the rapid pace of business.  But, the Tradeshow Manager finds themselves using Excel VLOOKUPS and other creative but time consuming ways to validate the lead information. They simply want to know, “Which leads have missing titles or phone numbers?” and ” What is the correct phone number?” and” How many are new leads?” and ” How many are in accounts closing this quarter?”

All of these are questions that can be answered, but take a lot of time in Excel and even after all that Excel work, the final lead list was still error prone causing missed sales opportunities.  With Informatica Rev, a Tradeshow Manager can answer these questions rapidly with no code, formal training, and in a few minutes all by themselves. With the Intelligent Guidance capability they can easily surface where the missing data lies. With Fast Combine they can access their opportunity information in Salesforce and be guided through the process of combining tradeshow and salesforce data to correctly replace the missing data.  Again, Voila!

Before Informatica Rev, an Accounting Analyst spent inordinate amounts of time processing trade partner data, every month, reconciling it with the trade partner’s receivables to determine if they had been paid the correct amount by their trade partner. Not only was this process time consuming, it was error prone and after all of the effort, they actually left millions in earned revenue, unreceived. And again, I almost don’t need to state that this end result is not an insignificant repercussion of the inability to respond at the rapid pace of business, and also effectively managing operational costs within the analysts company.  So, let’s take a look at what the Accounting Analyst does, today.  Every trade partner sends large files with different structures of purchase data in them. The Accounting Analyst initially asks, “What data is in them?”,” For what time period?”,” How many transactions?”,” From which products?”, “Which of our actual products does their name for our product tie to?”

Then, after they get these answers, they need to combine it with the payments data they received from the trade partner in order to answer the question, “Have we been paid the right amount and if not what is the difference?” All of these questions are ones that can be answered, but used to take a lot of time with Excel VLOOKUPS and complex macros. And often, the reconciliation was performed incorrectly leaving receivables, well, un-received. With Informatica Rev, an Accounting Analyst can benefit from Intelligent Guidance where they are lead through the process of rapidly understanding their questions about the trade partner files, with a few simple clicks. Furthermore Informatica Rev’s Smart Combine capability suggests how to combine receivables data with trade partner data. So there you have it, now they know if the correct amount has been paid. And the best part is that they were able to answer these questions rapidly with no code, formal training, and in a few minutes all by themselves. Now, this process has to be done every month. Using Recipes, every step the Accounting Analyst took last month is recorded, so they do not have to repeat it this month. Just re-import the new trade partner data and you reconciled. And Again, Voila!

One more thing for you, the everyday business user. In the future, you will be able to send this Recipe to IT. This capability will allow you to communicate your exact data requirement to IT, just as you created it with no mis-interpretation on anyone’s behalf. IT can then rapidly institutionalize your logic exactly as you defined it, into the enterprise datawarehouse, datamart or some other repository of your or your IT department’s liking. Perhaps this means the end to those requirements gathering sessions?

More importantly, I feel this means that you just got your exact requirement added into a central repository in a matter of minutes. And you did not need to make a case to be part of an enterprise project either. This capability is a necessary part for you to participate in the Data Democracy and maintain your rapid pace of business. This is a piece that Informatica is uniquely positioned to solve for you as your IT department likely already has Informatica.

Just as these Professionals have found success by participating in the Data Democracy, with Informatica Rev you finally can do so, too.

Please look for Part 2 of this Blog, tomorrow, where I will discuss how Informatica Rev elegantly bridges the IT and Business divide, empowering IT to lead the charge into Data Democracy. But in the meantime check out Informatica Rev for yourself and let me know what you think.

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Posted in B2B, Business Impact / Benefits, Data Services | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Building an Enterprise Data Hub: Choosing the Data Integration Solution

Building an Enterprise Data Hub with proper Data Integration

Building an Enterprise Data Hub

Building an Enterprise Data Hub

Data flows into the enterprise from many sources, in many formats, sizes, and levels of complexity. And as enterprise architectures have evolved over the years, traditional data warehouses have become less of a final staging center for data, but rather, one component of the enterprise that interfaces with significant data flows. But since data warehouses should focus on being powerful engines for high value analytics, they should not be the central hub for data movement and data preparation (e.g. ETL/ELT), especially for the newer data types–such as social media, clickstream data, sensor data, internet-of-things-data, etc.–that are in use today.

When you start seeing data warehouse capacity consumed too quickly and performance degradation where end users are complaining about slower response times, and you risk not meeting your service-level agreements, then it might be time to consider an enterprise data hub (EDH). With an EDH, especially one built on Apache™ Hadoop®, you can plan a strategy around data warehouse optimization to get better use out of your entire enterprise architecture.

Of course, whenever you add another new technology to your data center, you care about interoperability. And since many systems in today’s architectures interoperate via data flows, it’s clear that sophisticated data integration technologies will be an important part of your EDH strategy. Today’s big data presents new challenges as relates to a wide variety of data types and formats, and the right technologies are needed to glue all the pieces together, whether those pieces are data warehouses, relational databases, Hadoop, or NoSQL databases.

Choosing a Data Integration Solution

Data integration software, at a high level, has one broad responsibility: to help you process and prepare your data with the right technology. This means it has to get your data to the right place in the right format in a timely manner. So it actually includes many tasks, but the end result is that timely, trusted data can be used for decision-making and risk management throughout the enterprise. You end up with a complete, ready-for-analysis picture of your business, as opposed to segmented snapshots based on a limited data set.

When evaluating a data integration solution for the enterprise, look for:

  • Ease of use to boost developer productivity
  • A proven track record in the industry
  • Widely available technology expertise
  • Experience with production deployments with newer technologies like Hadoop
  • Ability to reuse data pipelines across different technologies (e.g. data warehouse, RDBMS, Hadoop, and other NoSQL databases)

Trustworthy data

Data integration is only part of the story. When you’re depending on data to drive business decisions and risk management, you clearly want to ensure the data is reliable. Data governance, data lineage, data quality, and data auditing remain as important topics in an EDH. Oftentimes, data privacy regulatory demands must be met, and the enterprise’s own intellectual property must be protected from accidental exposure.

To help ensure that data is sound and secure, look for a solution that provides:

  • Centralized management and control
  • Data certification prior to publication, transparent data and integration processes, and the ability to track data lineage
  • Granular security, access controls, and data masking to protect data both in transit and at the source to prevent unauthorized access to specific data sets

Informatica is the data integration solution selected by many enterprises. Informatica’s family of enterprise data integration, data quality, and other data management products can manage data — of any format, complexity level, or size –from any business system, and then deliver that data across the enterprise at the desired speed.

Watch the latest Gartner video to see Todd Goldman, Vice President and General Manager for Enterprise Data Integration at Informatica, as well as executives from Cisco and MapR, give their perspective on how businesses today can gain even more value from big data.

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Posted in B2B, B2B Data Exchange, Cloud Data Integration, Data Governance, Data Integration, Enterprise Data Management | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

5 Ways to Comply With the New EU Food Information Regulation

EU Food Information Regulation

5 Ways to Comply With the New EU Food Information Regulation

On December 13, 2014, the EU food information regulation 1169/2011 took effect. The new legislation requires that consumers be able to make informed purchases by ensuring that they have access to accurate product information. This information includes nutritional values, allergens and ingredients for any pre-packaged food or beverage products prior to purchasing them.

Allergy statistics from the European Academy of Allergy and Clinical Immunology (EAACI) indicate that 17 million Europeans are allergic to some type of food. In addition, documented allergies in children have doubled over the past 10 years. To decrease food-related health risks, this EU legislation lists 14 allergens that must be declared, in the event any are (or could be) part of the ingredients. Failure to comply with the regulations is serious and could result in criminal prosecution.

This new regulation is applicable regardless of where the product is offered: in-store, online, in a bakery, restaurant, bar or café. The consumer must have access to consistent, complete and correct food information. Whether you are a manufacture or retailer, you are responsible to ensure that all product data across the entire supply chain is synchronized and compliant.

Here are the top 5 things manufacturers and retailers of pre-packaged food and beverage products have to consider complying with the new EU food information regulations:

  1. As a manufacturer of pre-packaged food and beverage products, you have to ensure that your product packaging displays EU compliant information and share all relevant information on ingredients and nutrition facts, including the 14 allergens with your trading partners.
  2. As a retailer, you will have to display correct and up-to-date product information across all channels including online shops. You rely on trusted data sources with accurate and complete product information you are receiving from your suppliers for any food product.  Product information must be updated and synchronized with any product attributes change, including ingredients or packaging. Especially when changing attributes of a product in your online shop, you need to ensure that a customer receives exactly the product he/she has purchased online by managing your stock and supply chain accordingly.
  3. If product attributes are shared electronically to other trading partners, this information also has to comply with the EU 1169/2011 regulation.
  4. Use Global Data Synchronization Network (GDSN) as a way to provide a powerful environment for secure and continuous synchronization of accurate data between you and your trading partners.
  5. Use PIM system to streamline business processes, create and manage finished products that are consistent, high on data quality, and can ensure compliance to the new EU 1169/2011 standards for syndication to different supply channels including the GDSN network.
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Thoughts on the CMS Medicare Quality “Five-Star” Rating System

CMS Medicare Quality "Five-Star" Rating System

CMS Medicare Quality “Five-Star” Rating System

This past October, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) announced two Medicare Quality Improvement Initiatives. I spent part of Thanksgiving weekend analyzing the most recent Star Quality bonus scores and trying to figure out where this program is going and what value we will get from it as an industry.  Much of the work that I am doing these days is focused on data.  I look at that through the prism of health plan operations where I spent a number of years.

CMS points out the overall improvement in quality which they position as the result of focusing, and incenting quality.  I agree that putting funding behind a quality program was a valuable strategy to motivate the industry.   This has not always been the case, in fact a former colleague who related a common dialog previous to this program:

  1. He would present a quality initiative to executive management
  2. They would nod politely and say, “Yes, of course we are interested in quality!”
  3. The conversation would continue until the cost of the program was disclosed.

The faces would change, and the response was, “Well, yes, quality is important, but funding is tight right now.  We need to focus on programs with a clear ROI”.

Thankfully the Star program has given quality initiatives a clear ROI – for which we are all grateful!

The other dynamic which is positive is that Medicare Advantage has provided a testing ground for new programs, largely the result of ACA.  Programs very similar to the Star program are part of the ACO program and the marketplace membership.  Risk Adjustment is being fitted to meet these programs also.  Private insurance will likely borrow similar structures to insure quality and fair compensation in their various risk sharing arrangements.  MA is a significant subset of the population and is providing an excellent sandbox for these initiatives while improving the quality of care that our senior population receives.

My concerns are around the cultures and mission of those plans who are struggling to get to the magic four star level where they will receive the bonus dollars.

Having worked in a health plan for almost nine years, and continuing to interact with my current customers, has shown me the dedication of the staffs that work in these plans.  One of my most rewarding experiences was leading the call center for the Medicare population.  I was humbled each day by the caring and patience the reps on the phones showed to the senior population.  I have also seen the dedication of clinical staffs to insuring the care for members is carefully coordinated and that their dignity and wishes were always respected.  I sincerely hope that plans with a clear mission find the right tools and supports to improve their ratings to the point where they receive the additional funding to maintain their viability and continue to serve their members and the medical community.  I am sure that there are poor quality plans out there, and I agree that they should be eliminated.  But I am also rooting for the plans with a mission who are striving to be a bit better.

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Posted in B2B, General, Healthcare, Life Sciences | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Optimizing Supply Chain with Data Governance

Optimizing Supply Chain with Data Governance

Optimizing Supply Chain with Data Governance

Last week I met with a customer who recently completed a few data fueled supply chain projects. Informatica data integration and master data management are part of the solution architecture. I’m not going to name the client at this early stage but want to share highlights from our Q&A.

Q: What was the driver for this project?

A: The initiative fell out of a procure-to-pay (P2P) initiative.  We engaged a consulting firm to help centralize Accounts Payable operations.  One required deliverable was an executive P2P dashboard. This dashboard would provide enterprise insights by relying on the enterprise data warehousing and business intelligence platform.

Q: What did the dashboard illustrate?

The dashboard integrated data from many sources to provide a single view of information about all of our suppliers. By visualizing this information in one place, we were able to rapidly gain operational insights. There are approximately 30,000 suppliers in the supplier master who either manufacture, or distribute, or both over 150,000 unique products.

Q: From which sources is Informatica consuming data to power the P2P dashboard?

A: There are 8 sources of data:

3 ERP Systems:

  1. Lawson
  2. HBOC STAR
  3. Meditech

4 Enrichment Sources:

  1. Dun & Bradstreet – for associating suppliers together from disparate sources.
  2. GDSN – Global Data Pool for helping to cleanse healthcare products.
  3. McKesson Pharmacy Spend – spend file from third party pharmaceutical distributor Helps capture detailed pharmacy spend which we procure from this third party.
  4. Office Depot Spend – spend file from third party office supply distributor.  Helps capture detailed pharmacy spend.
  5. MedAssets – third party group purchasing organization (GPO) who provides detailed contract pricing.

Q: Did you tackle clinical scenarios first?

A: No, well we certainly have many clinical scenarios we want to explore like cost per procedure per patient we knew that we should establish a few quick, operational wins to gain traction and credibility.

Q: Great idea – capturing quick wins is certainly the way we are seeing customers have the most success in these transformative projects. Where did you start?

A: We started with supply chain cost containment; increasing pressures on healthcare organizations to reduce cost made this low hanging fruit the right place to start. There may be as much as 20% waste to be eliminated through strategic and actionable analytics.

Q: What did you discover?

A: Through the P2P dashboard, insights were gained into days to pay on invoices as well as early payment discounts and late payment penalties. With the visualization we quickly saw that we were paying a large amount of late fees. With this awareness, we dug into why the late fees were so high. What was discovered is that, with one large supplier, the original payment terms were net 30 but that in later negotiations terms were changed to 20 days. Late fees were accruing after 20 days. Through this complete view we were able to rapidly hone in on the issue and change operations — avoiding costly late fees.

Q: That’s a great example of straight forward analytics powered by an integrated view of data, thank you. What’s a more complex use case you plan to tackle?

A: Now that we have the systems in place along with data stewardship, we will start to focus on clinical supply chain scenarios like cost per procedure per patient. We have all of the data in one data warehouse to answer questions like – which procedures are costing the most, do procedure costs vary by clinician? By location? By supply? – and what is the outcome of each of these procedures? We always want to take the right and best action for the patient.

We were also able to identify where negotiated payment discounts were not being taken advantage of or where there were opportunities to negotiate discounts.

These insights were revealed through the dashboard and immediate value was realized the first day.

Fueling knowledge with data is helping procurement negotiate the right discounts, i.e. they can seek discounts on the most used supplies vs discounts on supplies rarely used. Think of it this way… you don’t want to get a discount on OJ and if you are buying milk.

Q: Excellent example and metaphor. Let’s talk more about stewardship, you have a data governance organization within IT that is governing supply chain?

A: No, we have a data governance team within supply chain… Supply chain staff that used to be called “content managers” now “data stewards”. They were doing the stewardship work of defining data, its use, its source, its quality before but it wasn’t a formally recognized part of their jobs… now it is. Armed with Informatica Data Director they are managing the quality of supply chain data across four domains including suppliers/vendors, locations, contracts and items. Data from each of these domains resides in our EMR, our ERP applications and in our ambulatory EMR/Practice Management application creating redundancy and manual reconciliation effort.

By adding Master Data Management (MDM) to the architecture, we were able to centralize management of master data about suppliers/vendors, items, contracts and locations, augment this data with enrichment data like that from D&B, reduce redundancy and reduce manual effort.

MDM shares this complete and accurate information with the enterprise data warehouse and we can use it to run analytics against. Having a confident, complete view of master data allows us to trust analytical insights revealed through the P2P dashboard.

Q: What lessons learned would you offer?

A: Having recognized operational value, I’d encourage health systems to focus on data driven supply chain because there are savings opportunities through easier identification of unmanaged spend.

I really enjoyed learning more about this project with valuable, tangible and nearly immediate results. I will keep you posted as the customer moves onto the next phase. If you have comments or questions, leave them here.

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Data Integration Webinar Follow-Up: By Our First Strange and Fatal Interview

How to Maximize Value of Data Management Investments

How to Maximize Value of Data Management Investments

This is a guest author post by Philip Howard, Research Director, Bloor Research.

I recently posted a blog about an interview style webcast I was doing with Informatica on the uses and costs associated with data integration tools.

I’m not sure that the poet John Donne was right when he said that it was strange, let alone fatal. Somewhat surprisingly, I have had a significant amount of feedback following this webinar. I say “surprisingly” because the truth is that I very rarely get direct feedback. Most of it, I assume, goes to the vendor. So, when a number of people commented to me that the research we conducted was both unique and valuable, it was a bit of a thrill. (Yes, I know, I’m easily pleased).

There were a number of questions that arose as a result of our discussions. Probably the most interesting was whether moving data into Hadoop (or some other NoSQL database) should be treated as a separate use case. We certainly didn’t include it as such in our original research. In hindsight, I’m not sure that the answer I gave at the time was fully correct. I acknowledged that you certainly need some different functionality to integrate with a Hadoop environment and that some vendors have more comprehensive capabilities than others when it comes to Hadoop and the same also applies (but with different suppliers, when it comes to integrating with, say, MongoDB or Cassandra or graph databases). However, as I pointed out in my previous blog, functionality is ephemeral. And, just because a particular capability isn’t supported today, doesn’t mean it won’t be supported tomorrow. So that doesn’t really affect use cases.

However, where I was inadequate in my reply was that I only referenced Hadoop as a platform for data warehousing, stating that moving data into Hadoop was not essentially different from moving it into Oracle Exadata or Teradata or HP Vertica. And that’s true. What I forgot was the use of Hadoop as an archiving platform. As it happens we didn’t have an archiving use case in our survey either. Why not? Because archiving is essentially a form of data migration – you have some information lifecycle management and access and security issues that are relevant to archiving once it is in place but that is after the fact: the process of discovering and moving the data is exactly the same as with data migration. So: my bad.

Aside from that little caveat, I quite enjoyed the whole event. Somebody or other (there’s always one!) didn’t quite get how quantifying the number of end points in a data integration scenario was a surrogate measure for complexity (something we took into account) and so I had to explain that. Of course, it’s not perfect as a metric but it’s the only alternative to ask eye of the beholder type questions which aren’t very satisfactory.

Anyway, if you want to listen to the whole thing you can find it HERE:

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Data First: Five Tips To Reduce the Risk of A Breach

Reduce the Risk of A Breach

Reduce the Risk of A Breach

This article was originally published on www.federaltimes.com

November – that time of the year. This year, November 1 was the start of Election Day weekend and the associated endless barrage of political ads. It also marked the end of Daylight Savings Time. But, perhaps more prominently, it marked the beginning of the holiday shopping season. Winter holiday decorations erupted in stores even before Halloween decorations were taken down. There were commercials and ads, free shipping on this, sales on that, singing, and even the first appearance of Santa Claus.

However, it’s not all joy and jingle bells. The kickoff to this holiday shopping season may also remind many of the countless credit card breaches at retailers that plagued last year’s shopping season and beyond. The breaches at Target, where almost 100 million credit cards were compromised, Neiman Marcus, Home Depot and Michael’s exemplify the urgent need for retailers to aggressively protect customer information.

In addition to the holiday shopping season, November also marks the next round of open enrollment for the ACA healthcare exchanges. Therefore, to avoid falling victim to the next data breach, government organizations as much as retailers, need to have data security top of mind.

According to the New York Times (Sept. 4, 2014), “for months, cyber security professionals have been warning that the healthcare site was a ripe target for hackers eager to gain access to personal data that could be sold on the black market. A week before federal officials discovered the breach at HealthCare.gov, a hospital operator in Tennessee said that Chinese hackers had stolen personal data for 4.5 million patients.”

Acknowledging the inevitability of further attacks, companies and organizations are taking action. For example, the National Retail Federation created the NRF IT Council, which is made up of 130 technology-security experts focused on safeguarding personal and company data.

Is government doing enough to protect personal, financial and health data in light of these increasing and persistent threats? The quick answer: no. The federal government as a whole is not meeting the data privacy and security challenge. Reports of cyber attacks and breaches are becoming commonplace, and warnings of new privacy concerns in many federal agencies and programs are being discussed in Congress, Inspector General reports and the media. According to a recent Government Accountability Office report, 18 out of 24 major federal agencies in the United States reported inadequate information security controls. Further, FISMA and HIPAA are falling short and antiquated security protocols, such as encryption, are also not keeping up with the sophistication of attacks. Government must follow the lead of industry and look for new and advanced data protection technologies, such as dynamic data masking and continuous data monitoring to prevent and thwart potential attacks.

These five principles can be implemented by any agency to curb the likelihood of a breach:

1. Expand the appointment and authority of CSOs and CISOs at the agency level.

2. Centralize the agency’s data privacy policy definition and implement on an enterprise level.

3. Protect all environments from development to production, including backups and archives.

4. Data and application security must be prioritized at the same level as network and perimeter security.

5. Data security should follow data through downstream systems and reporting.

So, as the season of voting, rollbacks, on-line shopping events, free shipping, Black Friday, Cyber Monday and healthcare enrollment begins, so does the time for protecting personal identifiable information, financial information, credit cards and health information. Individuals, retailers, industry and government need to think about data first and stay vigilant and focused.

This article was originally published on www.federaltimes.com. Please view the original listing here

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