Real-time Web services have become an industry buzzword. The ability to purchase and access address verification and data quality solutions in real-time 24/7 is very appealing to companies because additional IT resources are not needed to integrate and maintain the service, and there is no software to buy or large upfront capital outlays.
What is a Web Service?
Software applications written in various programming languages and running on various machine platforms can use Web Services to easily exchange data over computer networks like the Internet. A Web Service is an application that uses open standards for exchanging data between applications or systems.
Sending your data to the Web Service to be validated, verified, cleansed, standardized, and appended with additional information is the next step in the data quality process. The data to be validated is formatted and sent to the Web Service. Once the Web Service processes the request, the data is then returned to you in the same format in which it was sent
Real-Time communication between your Web Services provider and your systems is independent of the programming language or operating system you use. This is usually made possible by using two open standards that are platform independent and vendor neutral, XML and SOAP:
· XML (Extensible Markup Language) is a flexible way to create common information formats and share both the format and the data on the Internet, intranets, and elsewhere.
· SOAP (Simple Object Access Protocol) is a standard protocol for exchanging messages over a computer network built on top of a standard XML format. It is an extensible foundation where complex structures can be used.
Advantages of using a Web Service
Using a Web service has two major advantages: it may be a less expensive option if you process a relatively low number of records; and it eliminates the effort associated with maintaining and updating – it’s handled by the Web Service vendor.
Web services, such as a data quality Web service, allow a company to protect their database behind a data quality firewall. Data coming in via call center or online shopping cart is verified and corrected at point of entry – before it enters your CRM system.
Data quality Web services also protect your data from inadvertent errors made by your own data entry personnel. The ability to check, correct and standardize an address “on the fly,” before it is even stored, will serve to minimize bad contact data including inaccurate street and email addresses, vulgar names and incorrect phone numbers.
Technology Assessment for Data Quality Web Services
Deciding upon an approach to data quality requires a thorough and realistic appraisal of the technology and resources available within the organization. Ask yourself the following questions:
1. If data quality is to be enforced via a Web site, is it feasible to integrate the technology into the Web site or will the site need a major overhaul to make it happen?
2. Does the volume of addresses to be verified make a Web Service the most economical solution?
3. What would be the best way to ensure that all address data passes through a data quality process before it is used in any way? Where in the business process does data quality fit best or does a new step need to be introduced for data quality.
4. Does the organization have the programming resources to integrate a data quality tool into an existing application?