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Liaison Briefs the Hub Designs MDM Think Tank

Jonathan Razza, who is a Director of Data Management Solutions at Liaison Technologies, sat down with the Hub Designs Think Tank in mid-October for an analyst briefing on Liaison’s Cloud MDM Services.

Liaison provides a cloud-based platform, which is a horizontally marketed solution with a strong focus on Life Sciences. The solution emphasizes a Data Integration component, which handles the movement, transformation and delivery of data. There’s a Data Management component, which handles data quality improvement through semantic data and metadata management, as well as data modeling, data cleansing and  enrichment. Finally, there’s a Data Security component, which protects data at rest and in motion, and provides compliance with  mandates.

Liaison defines MDM as “an ongoing process of continuous data improvement to better meet the needs of the business”, and approaches MDM via a “software as a service” (SaaS) approach through a lifecycle of:

  • Data Integration
  • Data Consolidation
  • Data Management
  • Data Automation

Liaison approaches MDM from a history in the product domain, but at this point, many of its customers are mastering product data and business-to-business customer data as well.

The main product component of the Liaison Technologies solution is Enterprise Content Director, which I found a little confusing, since it brought to mind a content management system (CMS). But from the discussion with Jonathan Razza, it was apparent that Liaison was doing the classic MDM functions, such as:

  • Extracting data from source systems
  • Audit and cleansing
  • Matching and merging (survivorship)
  • Conversion and loading data
  • Maintaining a master repository
  • Synchronizing additions and updates to the master data back to the source systems

Additionally, Liaison can do data enrichment in the cloud, focused on the customer domain. Using web services, Liaison’s product can invoke any web service to validate or enrich customer data.

Since Liaison’s product is delivered via the cloud, it makes it easier for Liaison to offer outsourced data stewardship, using an onshore model. This has become a differentiator for Liaison, as it offers managed services (in blocks of hours) to assist clients who may find it difficult to get access to their own internal IT resources when they need something done quickly.

Liaison Technologies brought its customer, xpedx, to tell us about their experiences in an end user case study. xpedx is a $7 billion North American paper, graphic supplies and equipment distributor that has tapped into Liaison’s Cloud MDM solution. xpedx was a finalist in the 2011 Gartner MDM Excellence Awards.

Scott Dickerson, who is the National E-Business Manager for Data Quality and Catalog Services at xpedx, talked to us about their experience with Liaison Technologies. xpedx had over a dozen ERP systems at one point, and over 700,000 – 800,000 SKUs (products).

xpedx uses Liaison to manage 600 product attributes, as well as to integrate data coming from its 13,000+ suppliers. Liaison built a custom web-based “front end” to their cloud offering for xpedx, and uses about 65 ontologies to classify and categorize its products.

Datapoint, the name for the custom web portal created jointly by xpedx and Liaison, turns “dumb applications” into applications capable of producing “smart data” – where the data is in a “ready to go” format for consumption within xpedx.

Liaison has about 9,000 customers across all their services and solutions and almost 40 cloud MDM clients, and like the rest of the MDM industry, is experiencing rapid growth in the interest in and demand for its product. One thing that was interesting about this briefing was that Liaison was the first MDM vendor to bring a customer voice into the conversation at the briefing, and I thought it added a lot of credibility to their message.

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