Thanks to the recent advent of Open
Source data cleansing software companies that were hesitant to invest in data cleansing solutions can now
streamline their massive customer databases at little to no cost.
Every year in the United States alone, over 20 billion catalogs are
mailed out (1). Due to the poor quality of many customer databases, some
addresses receive multiple copies of the same catalog. Software capable of
correcting these problems has been available for years, but until now it has
been expensive and complicated to use, putting it out of the reach of small
and medium-sized businesses.
This situation changed last week, when Toronto-based data warehouse
consulting group SQL Power announced the general availability of the
Power MatchMaker: a free software tool for improving data quality, including
address correction and data de-duplication. SQL Power has released this tool
under the GNU Public License, a popular scheme for distributing software that
ensures users can not only get a free copy of the software to run, but they
are guaranteed access it its source code as well.
“By releasing this software for free, we are reducing the barriers to
address correction and de-duplication,” says Jonathan Fuerth, head of software
development at SQL Power (and closet environmentalist). “Now small and
medium-size businesses have no excuse for mailing out multiple copies of
catalogs and direct mailings to the same household… or worse yet, mailing
out catalogs to invalid addresses only to have them returned weeks later. Our
software is easy to learn, easy to use, and free. With a modest investment of
effort, businesses can save money and trees, plus reduce pollution in rivers
and lakes. Every little bit counts.”
If software like the Power MatchMaker could reduce just half a percent of
catalog mailouts, that would add up to 40,000 tons of trees (1) saved from
needless use each year.
From the perspective of most companies, the Power MatchMaker is a win-win
solution: the cleansed data provides better decision making information for
the company, and the reduced duplication/increased accuracy helps the
environment by using less resources for incorrect printing and mailing. But
perhaps best of all is the fact that the software is Open Source – since
Power MatchMaker is free to download and use, there is virtually no risk.
And the only drawback to helping the environment without paying for it is
that you can’t get a tax receipt.