With finance organizations increasingly focusing on the quality and not the quantity of data, data cleansing has become a prime focus of business intelligence (BI) software providers. Now, BI software leader Cognos Inc., based in Ottowa, Ont., has announced an expansion of its nine-year partnership with Redwood City, Calif.-based Informatica Corp., a leading developer of data cleansing software. Cognos has raised Informatica to the level of a strategic partner and will resell Informatica data quality products and services. "Data quality is becoming top of mind for CFOs because of increased scrutiny on the [financial reporting] numbers," says Harriet Fryman, associate vice president of marketing at Cognos. She adds that the spotlight on quality is also a consequence of the maturing business performance management market. "The first hurdle [for finance executives] was data access and getting the tools to interact with the data," Fryman says. "But to make strategic decisions, business executives need to know that the data is right."

Data quality is becoming a hot topic for a number of reasons, says Gartner Inc. analyst Ted Friedman, pointing to the recent acquisition by French BI vendor Business Objects of small German data cleansing software provider Fuzzy! Informatik. He notes that companies are increasingly treating data as a strategic asset, recognizing that that's not only about security of data, privacy of data or storage of data, but the quality of data. "I cannot think of a better example of the old clich?(C), 'garbage in/garbage out,' than BI," says Friedman. "So vendors like Cognos who sell BI tools and applications are being pushed by their customers to deliver more in terms of assuring the quality of data going into that BI."

He also points to the partnership between Cognos and Informatica as a competitive response on the part of Cognos to Business Objects' acquisition last year of First Logic, another data quality software provider. Says Friedman: "BO has used its data quality capabilities as a thorn in Cognos' side." He adds that Informatica's technology is "domain agnostic." That means it's not optimized for any particular type of data–customer data, product data, financial data. "It can play across the domains." Friedman says.

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