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Lou Agosta

Greetings and welcome to my blog focusing on reengineering healthcare using information technology. The commitment is to provide an engaging mixture of brainstorming, blue sky speculation and business intelligence vision with real world experiences – including those reported by you, the reader-participant – about what works and what doesn't in using healthcare information technology (HIT) to optimize consumer, provider and payer processes in healthcare. Keeping in mind that sometimes a scalpel, not a hammer, is the tool of choice, the approach is to be a stand for new possibilities in the face of entrenched mediocrity, to do so without tilting windmills and to follow the line of least resistance to getting the job done – a healthcare system that works for us all. So let me invite you to HIT me with your best shot at LAgosta@acm.org.

About the author >

Lou Agosta is an independent industry analyst, specializing in data warehousing, data mining and data quality. A former industry analyst at Giga Information Group, Agosta has published extensively on industry trends in data warehousing, business and information technology. He is currently focusing on the challenge of transforming America’s healthcare system using information technology (HIT). He can be reached at LAgosta@acm.org.

Editor's Note: More articles, resources, and events are available in Lou's BeyeNETWORK Expert Channel. Be sure to visit today!

Recently in master data management (MDM) Category

I had a chance to talk with Yves de Montcheuil, VP of Marketing, about current events at Talend and its vision of the future.

Talend addresses data integration across a diverse array of industry verticals. Its inroads in healthcare will be of interest to readers of this blog. As noted elsewhere, healthcare is a data integration challenge ( healthcare data integration). For example, at Children's Hospital and Medical Center of Omaha (NE), heterogeneous systems are the order of the day. The ambulatory EMR generates tons of documents. These need to be added to its legal medical record system, MedPlus Chartmaxx. On occasion, some of those documents error out before being captured to the patient's chart in Chartmaxx. This is clinical information impacts clinician decision making, and must be filed to the appropriate patient's record in a timely manner, supporting patient care quality. Talend synchronizes such processes across clinical systems. It providers data transformations, notifications and, in this case, exception processing, furnishing a level of functionality that previously required a larger and more expensive ETL tool from a larger and more expensive software vendor. This is the tip of the iceberg; and Talend is now the standard at the enterprise for data integration and data quality. This is obviously also the process in which to perform data quality activities - data profiling, data validation, and data correction. Data validation occurs inside the data stream, and any suspect data is flagged and included in a report that is then processed for reconciliation. The ability to perform data quality controls and corrections across them makes the processing of data faster and smoother. It should be noted that, although I drilled down on this example, Talend has numerous high profile wins in healthcare (accessible on its web site here.)


Taking a strategy from the play book of its larger competitors, but without the pricing mark up, Talend is developing a platform that includes data quality in the form of Talend Data Profiler and Talend Data Quality, the latter, of course, actually able to validate and correct the errors surfaced. The obvious question is what is the next logical step?

Several possibilities are available. However, the one engaged by Talend - and its a good one - is the announcement (here) of the acquisition of a master data management (MDM) software firm, Amalto Technologies, and plans to make it a part of its open source distribution in 2010. This is a logical move for several reasons. First, data integration and data quality (rationalization) are on the critical path to a consistent, unified view of customers, products, providers, and whatever master data dimensions turn you on. The data warehouse is routinely referred to as a single version of the truth. Now it turns out that there is no single version of data warehousing truth without a single version of customer, product, location, and calendar (and so on) truth to support the data warehouse. (This deserves a whole post in itself, so please stand by for update on that.)

While the future is uncertain, I am betting on the success of Talend for several reasons. First, the approach at Talend - and open software in general - simplifies the software acquisition process (and this regardless of any price consideration). Instead of having to negotiate with increasingly stressed out (and scarce) sales staff, who need to qualify you as a buyer with $250K or $500K to invest, the prospect sets his own agenda, downloading the software and building a prototype at its own pace. If you like the result and want to scale up - and comments about the quality of the software are high, though, heavens knows, like any complex artifact, there is a list of bug fixes - then a formal open source distribution is available - for a fee, of course - with a rigorous, formal service level agreement and support. Second, according to Gartner's November 25, 2009 Magic Quadrant for Data Integration, available on the Talend web site for a simple registration, Talend has some 800 customers. I have not verified the accuracy of this data, though there are logos aplenty on the Talend web site, including many in healthcare, and all the usual disclaimers apply. Talend is justifiably proud and is engaging in a bit of boasting here as open source gets the recognition it has for some time deserved Third, Talend is turning the crank - in a positive sense of the word - with a short cycle for enhancements, currently every six months or so. With a relatively new and emerging product, this is most appropriate, though I expect that to slow as functionality reaches a dynamic equilibrium a couple of years from now. There are some sixty developers in China - employees of Talend, not out sourced developers - reporting to a smaller design/development team of some 15 architects in France. Leaving aside the formal development of the defined distribution of the software for the moment, the open source community provides the largest focus group you can imagine, collecting and vetting requests and requirements from the community. As in so many areas of the software economy, Talend is changing the economics of data integration - and soon MDM - in a way that benefits end-user enterprises. Watch for the success of this model to propagate itself virally - and openly - in other areas of software development.  Please let me hear from you about your experiences with Talend, data integration, and open source in all its forms.

Posted December 11, 2009 9:47 AM
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