Online and on top

9th December 2015 • Software News & Reviews

by James Lawson, Contributing Editor

We discover that whether it’s a quick cleanse, setting up regular weekly processing direct from your in-house database, validating a phone number or buying a list, Data8’s online portal can do the lot.

Data8 has long specialised in delivering expert online data cleansing and validation services. The latest incarnation of its portal spans web-based cleansing, real-time validation and B2B data supply, plus an innovative interactive data audit reporting tool. So, how does it measure up?

Logging in takes you straight to the main dashboard screen with no delay. Like any other online service, new users will need to set up a username and password first.

Login screen

The log in screen of Data8’s online portal is clear, simple and uncluttered.

Revamped 18 months ago, the dashboard is clear, simple and uncluttered, with the four groups of services tabbed along the top: Cleansing, Validation, Supply and Admin. The panel outline changes colour to show which part of the dashboard you are currently in.

Every button is clearly labelled and navigating around is intuitive, even for new users. Admin is where you edit your user details, examine your old invoices and adjust a few other miscellaneous options: terms and conditions, security settings and password changes. Via User Management, you can allow multiple individuals access to a single account.

The Cleansing screen has a prominent orange panel for file upload, which is where most jobs will start. There’s also a Manual Files option that offers secure encrypted upload.

This caters for larger files or jobs outside of the normal service roster that need to be manually processed. Data8 also offers other options like Secure FTP or API linking for transfers.

Elsewhere in the Cleansing section, there’s detailed background information on rates, services and the cleansing process. That includes the many reference files on offer, including downloadable product sheets.

Starting with selecting the file to upload, the online portal walks you through the import process step by step. It automatically and reliably recognises sample files and is able to cope with all the common file types like Excel, .csv and Access. It can also suggest the right sheet within an Excel workbook to import and confirms that back to the user on the next screen.

It next automaps the input file’s columns and again confirms that with the user. Next up are the processing choices: a set of tabbed screens within which you can configure which services to run, which reference files to use and numerous other options like using client-uploaded stop files.

These preferences are extensive and, to avoid any confusion, they are switched off for new users who get a standardised roster in which pretty much everything runs. More experienced users can toggle the advanced options on and off, using a button in the Admin section to reveal the tabs.

Data8 describes combinations of services in a certain order as “cascades”. To avoid the need to configure repeat jobs, clients can customise cascades to fit their own preferences and save them as templates for future use. A simplified example would be “run goneaway suppression at household level using these reference files and don’t buy forwarding addresses”.

Once the processing is set up, clicking “next” sees a progress bar pop onto the screen as the system runs the job. Once complete, the Data Quality Report arrives (which has Consumer and Business versions). This is a comprehensive interactive report laid out clearly and in logical order, along with some useful visualisation too.

Clear help is available on both what the metrics are and how to interpret them. A spreadsheet version also arrives by email and you can download a PDF copy.

Examples of the statistics supplied include residency verification, deliverable address count, number of duplicates and suppression counts for goneaways and deceaseds. You can toggle between different levels – forename, initial, surname or premise/household – and see how that changes results.

Profiling section

The profiling section summarises results for various analytical options.

The profiling section summarises results for various analytical options: consumer geodems via the Sonar classification, Equifax Investor Profiles for affluence, gender from name, Edited Electoral Roll fields and geolocation. All these can be appended, providing a basis for further analysis or for B2C prospect data selection by phone.

Data8 innovates here by offering an overall percentage Data Quality Score based on inputs like field population, population of email and phone number fields, and mailable records. The report also predicts the improvements in that score by running certain services like PAF cleansing.

Once you’ve digested the audit information, it’s time to finalise which services you actually want to pay for. There’s pages of options to go through at this stage: the final file order, possible PAF fields and codes to add, name formats, suppression files and matching levels to name but a few.

The user can choose the suppression files used in the initial set-up (and specify the confidence score level where available) but has no control over hierarchy. Hit charges are averaged out across the files chosen to give a single cost for goneaways, deceased and movers; choose only the cheapest files initially and that average should drop.


Consumer Report screen

Overall, Data8’s online portal is a slick and sophisticated affair.

Another point to note is that all records are PAF’d prior to further deduping and suppression, even if the client isn’t paying for PAF processing. A nice touch.

Another point to note is that all records are PAF’d prior to further deduping and suppression, even if the client isn’t paying for PAF processing. A nice touch.

Next there are all the appending options to choose: phone numbers, emails and much more. Finally, there’s a detailed report and cost breakdown. With the data already processed, you can confirm the order and download the cleansed file immediately.

Validation is the other main plank of Data8’s online offering. This range of real-time validation services is based on the same reference files that sit behind the cleansing service. These vary from postcode lookup and bank account validation to email and phone number verification and geocoding.

Users can check customer details against files like MPS either through a web browser or via a web service API connection. The latter makes it simple to access validation directly from within a desktop application or to build a service like postcode validation into a website in a few hours at most. There is also a range of plug-ins for popular applications like MS Dynamics, Magento and Sage.

A UK ID verification tool is part of the line-up, using the Edited ER to confirm residency and OSIS to append phone numbers. A real-time email validation tool looks to have a lot of potential value; if told the email they’ve provided when registering online is invalid, apparently most people will then disclose their correct email address.

The latest arrival is a Google-style predictive address look-up tool where you keep typing in the address and pick the right one from the suggestions offered.  There’s also a new business lead capture service. Based on name and email address, it can append company address, SIC, credit score and much else besides.

The third and final element of the online service is Supply. This only offers B2B data; B2C data is available by phone. Selection is highly visual and very straightforward, with counts given at each stage of the process. The system retains the information from previous selections to avoid duplication in future orders and clients can again upload their own stop files to suppress against.

Overall, Data8’s online portal is a slick and sophisticated affair. The cleansing service is simple for new users but offers endless options for more experienced hands. Its web-services-based architecture can also easily be extended to support customised, automated processes, just as its range of real-time validation tools can be built into pretty much any application you desire.

Adding B2B data selection from its own business universe is the icing on the cake. Whether you want to quickly cleanse a mailing file, set up regular weekly processing direct from your in-house database, validate a phone number or buy a list, Data8 can handle all of it – online.

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