Category Archives: Astera News and Views

Automate Partner Data Exchange and Integration through Astera’s Customer Portal

Effective business intelligence demands proper data collection and integration processes. Modern businesses receive data in different formats from a variety of communication protocols, when efficient collaboration and tracking of data exchanges are more important than ever before.

Partner Data Exchange and Integration Automation

Partner Data Exchange – Centerprise Data Integration Software

As data increases, the maintenance and management of multiple files from disparate sources takes its toll on IT teams. File based partner data exchanges need to be fast, reliable, and secure for transfers, especially on large-scale operations. Manual data entry and file exchange over channels like email aren’t sufficient anymore. Businesses need a centralized platform where customers, partners, suppliers, and employees can upload data files, ensure compliance, and track file status.

Enter the new Astera Online Customer Portal.

Key features include:

Centralized Uploading

Partners upload data files directly on the portal URL using their unique login credentials. Validation and cleansing take place automatically on the backend Centerprise server using custom integration flows. A response file is generated at the end for both the admin and users.

File Tracking

The Customer Portal comes with inherent file tracking: all involved remain up-to-date on file statuses in real-time via the Dashboard. For unsuccessful uploads, the response file contains error codes and explanations. Status emails can also be configured for all types of accounts. This ensures all necessary files are uploaded correctly after data validation, allowing the final workflow to run as scheduled.

Security

Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) and file encryption are supported on the Customer Portal. Uploaded encrypted files are automatically decrypted, processed, and then re-encrypted by Centerprise to be sent back.

Scalability

The Customer Portal is built to handle unlimited data volume and borrows on Centerprise’s powerful scalability. Cloud servers can also be added for reliable load balancing.

White Label Capability

Astera Online’s Customer Portal is customizable, with the ability to use your company logo and domain name. Get all the functionality of Centerprise while maintaining brand cohesion.

For a live demo and information on pricing for our partner data exchange and integration solution, call us at +1 888-772-7837 or email us at sales@astera.com

ReportMiner Has Been Named a 2015 Trend-Setting Product by KMWorld Magazine

KM World Trend Setting Product 2015We are excited to share with our blog readers that our industry-leading ReportMiner data extraction software has been named a 2015 Trend-Setting Product by KMWorld Magazine!

KMWorld Editor-in-Chief Hugh McKellar commented that, “In each and every case, the thoughtfulness and elegance of the software certainly warrants deep examination. Depending on customer needs, the products on the list can dramatically boost organizational performance. The products identified fulfill the ultimate goal of knowledge management—delivering the right information to the right people at the right time.”

The panel, which consists of editorial colleagues, market and technology analysts, KM theoreticians, practitioners, customers and a select few savvy users (in a variety of disciplines), reviewed more than 200 vendors, whose combined product lineups include more than 1,000 separate offerings.

ReportMiner’s user-friendly interface enables business users with little or no technical background to easily accomplish a wide range of data extraction tasks without employing expensive IT resources. Smart features such as automated name and address parsing and auto creation of data extraction patternsautomate many time-consuming manual tasks, saving time and increasing data quality. You can find out more at astera.com/reportminer-data-extraction-software.

We Have a Winner!

contest winnerWe just finished our second campaign to post customer reviews on a software reviews portal and we are excited to announce that Phil Nacamuli of Leximantix has won the iPad drawing. We had a great response to this campaign and want to thank all of our customers who took the time to post a review of Centerprise or ReportMiner.

You can access all of our reviews on our customer testimonial page. Here are some that stood out for us in this latest campaign:

Prasad Sunkara of Vish Group

“Centerprise at its best!”

Centerprise at its best! Easy for business users. We were able to train new employees and get them to speed within a week. Using Centerprise as an ETL tool is working out great. Especially working with uncommon data sources! The tool is easy to use, very affordable to own and returns are very high, including increased speed of delivery of data, business user-driven data delivery and rapid prototyping.

Dawn Bauer of Farmers Mutual Hail Insurance

“Fast and Simple. All-in-one package”

Centerprise is perfect for dumping data from an ODS system into a data warehouse for reporting. It is fast, easy and simple to use. You can have a dataflow up and running in mere minutes compared to some other tools on the market.

Don Smith of Software Solutions

“WOW Why did we wait soooo long?”

Centerprise allows us to create a reusable template to standardize the information that we use to validate conversions. Standardizing the reporting data from two systems is an awesome strength that can be developed out of Centerprise. We have seen that the use of this package saved us 2 hours per conversion but now since the templates are already developed it is saving us more. This reduces our lead time for conversions, and increases our efficiencies as a conversion team.

Mario Ferrer of Achievers

 “Astera Centerprise rules!”

I love Centerprise and I believe it has a lot of potential. It’s incredibly easy to use. People with no previous ETL experience can start building simple mappings very quickly. It’s incredibly easy to install and maintain. After I first installed Centerprise, I was able to start working in just a few minutes. I am particularly impressed with how much Centerprise simplifies transformations that require more work in other ETL tools. The perfect example is the SCD transformation, which handles all the logic in an Slowly Changing Dimension. Even with a market leader like Informatica, the SCD logic has to be manually built. With Centerprise this can be built in just a few minutes, and it impacts every mapping.

Data Integration: Helping Startups Operate Efficiently and Gain the Competitive Advantage

“Startups are keeping head counts low, and even eliminating management positions, by replacing them with a surprising substitute for leaders and decision-makers: data.”

This is the subject of an article in The Wall Street Journal that ran Sunday, April 19.  “Every time people come to me and ask for new bodies it turns out so much of that can be answered by asking the right questions of our data and getting that in front of the decision makers,” says James Reinhart, CEO of online secondhand clothing store thredUP.

The same or similar stories were told to the author of the article by dozens of other startups. In the past, companies operated by giving managers control over data and those who actually needed the data to make day-to-day decisions had to get in line and wait for the manager to give it to them. Even just a few years ago, the author points out, databases were massively expensive and business intelligence software cost millions of dollars and could take months to install. So it made sense to limit access to managers.

This is not the case today. Thanks to user-friendly, cost-effective data integration software, business users no longer need a manager, or even IT, to hand them the information they need. They can get it themselves, when and where they need it, and make decisions much more quickly and accurately.

It isn’t news anymore that businesses are collecting terabytes of data to analyze and use as a competitive advantage. Now, with affordable software that doesn’t require an experienced programmer to extract meaningful data, every employee has the tools to gather information and make decisions.

The new role of business users in the manipulation and analysis of data doesn’t mean that IT isn’t needed any more. Now data scientists can focus on what they are really good at—making sure the software is working correctly and integrating with other company systems, writing code for customization, and ensuring that the data is clean.

Affordable, intuitive data integration software like our Centerprise Data Integrator is helping to tame the data revolution and ensure that startups have the best competitive advantages possible.

Congrats to the Winner of Our Customer Reference Campaign

We recently ran a campaign to generate updated customer testimonials for our website and a partner portal. The response was amazing and we are fortunate to have such great customers. We want to thank all of our customers who took the time to post a review of Centerprise or ReportMiner on our partner portal and to congratulate Darius Grant of Alcatel Lucent, the winner of our iPad drawing. As a token of appreciation, we sent each customer who posted a review an Amazon gift card. We’ll be running a new campaign for a different partner portal in the near future, so if you missed the fun and the chance to win an iPad this time, keep an eye out in your email for information on the next one.

You can access all of our reviews on our customer testimonial page. We wanted to share some of the best ones here:

Financial Services

Centerprise has been the essential ETL tool for the past 5 years within our data mapping and conversion teams. It has allowed the MIS function to be centered back on the user in a controlled manner without a deep technical aptitude. The interfaces are easy to use and the product remains effective for our data needs with up to date features.

Vish Group

Surprisingly affordable compared to other ETL tools. It is a very easy to use product and easy to learn. Further I am surprised with their product support. I am planning to use Centerprise Data Integrator for my future projects.

LJRH

Robust Data Management/Transformation tool. Centerprise makes data transformation easy with it’s well equipped toolbox and easy customization.

Software Solutions

Novice User. Within the first two weeks we were able to use Centerprise in four different conversion processes and saved around 10 man hours. That means in 10 days we were able to perform 11 days worth of work. Our biggest problem is that work gets in the way of us exploring even more ways of benefiting from using Centerprise.

The United Methodist Church

We were looking for a product to help us gather data from 50 entities on a variety of platforms, and to provide them with the tools necessary to send the data. Centerprise has enabled us to successfully synchronize the data on an automated scheduled basis. The beauty of Centerprise is its’ flexibility in being able to standardized the data, and handle the entire process from collection, through cleaning and updating, to publishing.

K12 Systems

Centerprise Data Integrator is overall a very useful tool for data integration from legacy systems to the new. Lightweight, easy to use, vast functionality to transform data, logical work flows are re-usable and save time, flexible expressions are very useful to logically transform data, quick support.  Outstanding features and flexibility for many ETL situations. It is easy product to learn and the user interface provides excellent visibility at all stages of the ETL. Overall the product is an great value for the functionality, ease of use and customer support.

VIN Solutions

Great ETL tool, with excellent support. We have been using Centerprise for three years now and it is used throughout our integration department for daily and historical imports and exports. Extremely easy to use. We have handed off import mapping to non-technical people without issues. The product has a variety of useful and important features, and has bee able to handle most everything we have thrown at it. Flexible and extensible. Great support. The team at Astera responds quickly to our questions and is prompt in addressing issues. This has been a great product for simplifying the maze of thousands of different imports we must handle on a daily basis.

Xerox

ReportMiner is a great concept, easy to use. This is a great tool. The flexibility it offers is amazing, and the customer service whenever I’ve had an issue has been exemplary.

Telamon

Excellent tool. ReportMiner is a very helpful tool, which makes our jobs much easier. We definitely recommend it!

Exciting New Features in ReportMiner 6.4 Revealed!

We’re launching a major new upgrade of ReportMiner that makes it the most intelligent and user-friendly data mining tool on the market.

ReportMiner enthusiasts and anyone interested in data mining is invited for a sneak peek in a complimentary half-hour New Features in ReportMiner 6.4 Revealed webinar on Wednesday, March 25, 2015 from 11:00 to 11:30 a.m. PDT.

In this webinar we’ll demonstrate exciting new features and functionalities that automate many tasks, saving you time and increasing your data quality. We’ll even be asking for your feedback on the value of these features for you.

Highlights include:

  • Auto creation of data regions
  • Auto parsing of names
  • Auto parsing of addresses
  • Auto creation of fields

Click the button below to register. We hope you can join us!

Astera Is One of KMWorld Magazine’s 100 Companies that Matter in Knowledge Management

We are pleased to announce that Astera has been named one of KMWorld Magazine’s 100 Companies That Matter in Knowledge Management.

In today’s business environment, it’s more important than ever to be able to fully leverage enterprise information assets. Organizations must be able to reliably share up-to-date information with internal teams and applications, clients, and business partners.

Centerprise Data Integrator provides a powerful, scalable, high-performance, and affordable integration platform designed for ease of use by business information experts, yet robust enough to overcome even the biggest and most complex data integration challenges. Centerprise enables organizations to share better business information quickly and reliably by reducing information roadblocks due to data integration, data quality, or data availability issues.

“The criteria for inclusion on the list vary, but each of those listed have things in common. Each has either helped to create a market,

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redefine it, enhance or extend it,” says Hugh McKellar, KMWorld Editor-in-Chief. “They all share a fundamental motivation to innovatively meet and anticipate the widely diverse needs of customers with robust solutions to meet evolving customer requirements challenges.”

We Make Enterprise Software People Actually Love!

A recent article by Jon Kolko in Harvard Business Review calls for vendors to “Make Enterprise Software People Actually Love.” The author posits that there is a big change happening—the lines between business software and consumer software are becoming more and more blurred.

Traditionally business software has been expected to be “feature rich” and complexity and difficulty of use was the accepted trade off. Consumer software, on the other hand, is meant for “regular” people who have expectations related to ease of use, simplicity, and most importantly, emotional attachment.

The author refers to the “consumerization of IT,” with workers bringing their own devices and software to the workplace and rejecting the overly complicated software provided by employers. Consumerization in this context refers to the power of choice and autonomy of control. He says that as we see more and more productivity tools emerge that are simple and easy to use, we’ll continue to see more individual business units reject traditional massive and complex enterprise tools for smaller, simpler tools.

The enterprise-to-consumer shift Kolko writes about is occurring in nearly every sector, and we at Astera have been seeing it in the data integration space over the past couple years. As the demand for data integration software that people like and are able to use has grown, so has the demand for our Centerprise Data Integrator, which we built from the ground up for ease of use.

It is becoming an asset for companies to have software that business professionals as well as IT specialists can use for several reasons. Firstly, in order to remain agile and competitive, enterprises are increasingly relying on business intelligence, for which they need up-to-the minute data. Data preparation that can only be done by IT creates bottlenecks, slowing processing and delivery of data for critical business decision-making. Secondly, business users are the ones who are closest to customers and partners and they know the best way to use enterprise data. Empowering these users with the ability to do their own data integration enables them to do it the way they need it and do it faster than waiting for IT. This makes for more efficient use of data, resulting in better customer relations and faster partner onboarding.

The consumerization of IT and demand for easy-to-use data integration tools is taking off, and here at Astera we’re on top this trend, which we predicted years ago. Our customers are already saying they love our software:

“We absolutely love the product, it’s just so fun to work with.”  June Ebell, technical data steward at Focus On The Family

Additional Resources:

90-second video: Data Integration for Business Users Explained

E-Book: Data Integration for Business Users

Related Blogs:

Leading the Industry: Astera Data Integration for Business Users

DIY: Putting Data Integration Into the Hands of Business Users

Business Users: The Future of Data Integration

Facing the New Energy Future

How a Major Electric Utility Customer Improved Business Agility

Today’s utilities are facing a lot of uncertainty about the future direction of their business and industry. Market forces such as the democratization of energy, the popularization of solar energy, the impact of decarbonization, and changing demand patterns caused by electric cars and fluctuating gas prices could mean new business models or regulator environments for electric utilities.

Staying Competitive Through Business Agility

With all of these challenges, utilities need to find a way to remain competitive. Enter the growing concept of business agility, or the ability to quickly adapt to changing market and customer needs. A key component of business agility in this environment is partner relations. Utilities will need new technology and energy acquisition partners and will need to manage those relationships efficiently to improve their business agility and keep pace with industry changes.

Data is a Bottleneck

But here’s a situation that happens all too frequently. A company wants to do business with another company, executives do the negotiations, promises are made, a deal is struck. Then it comes time to integrate data and the process slows to a halt because bringing third-party data into a business system gets very complex. If the business analyst can’t do it using a spreadsheet and macros, then the IT team is called in to manipulate the data. All the while, the clock is ticking and the partnership is not moving forward. The partner becomes frustrated and may choose to go elsewhere.

Data integration is a growing solution to this problem that allows utilities to more smoothly and quickly – sometimes within hours – integrate external data files into a business system. Data integration is powerful, but it’s no easy task and therefore has historically been in the realm of IT. But as utilities seek to expand their agility, there has been a movement to simplify this technology in order to provide software that can be used by the data analysts or customer integration teams that are close to the customers.

Energy Acquisition Partnership Example

Acquiring electric energy assets is a great example of the data integration challenge facing utilities.

An energy company and other energy vendors have a heavy need to integrate each vendor’s uniquely formatted data into the main system in order to finalize an acquisition. Too often, energy companies have home-grown or manual systems for this data integration that dramatically increase the time involved in onboarding a new acquisition. However, they also carry the risk of inaccurate information.

This was the case for an Astera energy corporation customer with nearly 400,000 ratepayers. The company received information formatted according to each of its energy vendors’ own systems, which meant manually copying that data into the company spreadsheet. Macros then had to be run in order to produce an output file sufficient for the company’s current acquisition system. The inefficient process was consuming valuable time and resources.

The company’s IT staff wanted to build a uniform process that would import vendor data directly into the acquisition system. The solution had to be able to handle each vendor’s file format, as well as translate some of the vendor-specific terms. The new system would have to be flexible and scalable, because new vendors and their proprietary formats are added all the time.

After evaluating available technologies on the market, the energy company chose Centerprise Data Integrator because it provided an easy-to-use interface that enabled users to quickly map the vendor fields to the company’s own fields.

Centerprise allowed the energy company’s partner team to convert the data, taking a project off of the plate of IT without sacrificing the flexibility, scalability, and functionality required for the energy company’s complex application. At the same time, the team was able to quickly and easily map new vendor data to the main system.

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The company was also able to take advantage of the software’s static lookup functionality to translate vendor-specific codes.

Now, any time data needs to be integrated from an existing vendor, the energy company can open up the transfer setting corresponding to that specific vendor file format. For new vendors, a new transfer setting can be created in a matter of minutes and saved for reuse.

Business agility is a macro solution for many of the challenges that face utilities, but data and data integration are the foundations for making the whole effort successful. Data integration technology is a major step forward and should play a key role in the data processing infrastructure of all utilities.

Additional Resources