In-Depth

Kalido’s Master Data Management Approach Suits Big Companies

Managing data across a highly diverse organization with operations around the globe is a challenge. With operations in more than 140 countries, and more than 112,000 employees, the Royal Dutch/Shell Group provides a good example of such large-scale data management.

At the core of the company’s data management are three conditions common to very large companies: a significant spread of operations with very complex data, autonomous business units with different views of that data, and continual change.

“It’s a hugely dynamic environment with a great deal of complexity and multiple views of the data,” says Cliff Longman, CTO of data management company Kalido. “We’re talking about more than a thousand separate operating legal entities and significant movement in the corporate structure, the product structures, and along the delivery chain.”

If Longman is especially familiar with data management at Royal Dutch/Shell: His company was born there.

“Shell funded a bit of practical research that led to an innovative approach to implementing data in standard databases,” Longman explains. “We produced a pilot that was implemented successfully in the Shell community. But it was clear from the beginning that Shell wasn’t the only company on the planet to have these problems.”

And Shell wasn’t in the software business, and never wanted to be, Longman says. “From day one, we took the view that we would build a separate software company, incubated within Shell,” he says.

The pilot project was implemented in 2001, and a separate company spun off in 2003. Today, Kalido is a provider of adaptive enterprise data warehousing and master data management software, primarily to large enterprises. Shell is a major customer, but so are Unilever, BP LPG, Cadbury Schweppes, Owens Corning, Philips Consumer electronics and Labatt Breweries of Canada.

The name of the company (pronounced kuh-LIE-doe) comes from the concept behind the kaleidoscope. “It reflects the way our software works,” Longman explains. “You have lots of little tiny pieces of data that you get to see as a pattern when you use the software.”

Kalido’s software is designed to provide a consolidated view of corporate performance without requiring standardized operation systems. Its flagship Kalido 8 product is an application suite for managing master data and automating the creation and lifecycle management of adaptive enterprise data warehouses. Master data refers to information on subject areas such as customers, brands, suppliers and financial indicators. Master data management applications analyze this data to gauge enterprise-wide performance in areas such as global sales, sales by individual customers and total spending with a single supplier.

Customers use the software to manage common business definitions for master data within a workflow-driven, Web-based repository. This repository is used for corporate performance reporting and analysis, circumventing the need for standardization of operational systems. Kalido 8 also allows users to publish and distribute golden-copy master data, so that business people and operational systems can share the common definitions. And it keeps a history of changes made to master data over time to support trend analysis and audit trails.

Release 2 of the Kalido product was announced last month.

Mike Schiff, analyst at Current Analysis, says Kalido 8 should appeal to companies that need to be able to change their business models proactively, whatever their size. “[Kalido] was one of the first vendors to recognize the advantages of using a data warehouse to manage and distribute master or reference data,” Schiff says.

Kalido hasn’t been away from the incubator long—it just moved its UK offices from digs within Royal Dutch/Shell this year—but the company is already in the process of establishing a presence in the U.S. For more information, go to: www.kalido.com.

About the Author

John K. Waters is a freelance writer based in Silicon Valley. He can be reached at john@watersworks.com.

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