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Itemfield: Defining the Benchmark for Complex Data Transformations

Achieving the "complexity advantage" in business integration

Click here for more information on Itemfield ContentMaster

In today's IT environment, complex data represents an ever-increasing proportion of enterprise data. Companies are struggling to transform and integrate complex data and often turn to costly IT development. Business drivers, such as customer self-service, regulatory compliance (e.g., Sarbanes-Oxley), operational and IT efficiency require high-performance, mission-critical applications that exploit real-time data transformations between a variety of complex data formats.

The challenge of complex data transformation is the ability to address the diversity of very complicated, poorly defined or undefined data formats used by applications. Common examples of complex data include large XML documents (containing thousands of elements and/or attachments), binary files (e.g., spreadsheets and PDFs), loosely implemented vertical "standards" such as HL7 in healthcare and ACORD in insurance, and complex COBOL in legacy applications. Complex data transformation can account for as much as two-thirds of the implementation cost in a business integration initiative.

Unfortunately, early approaches to business integration, which were based on traditional middleware, fell short when it came to solving the problem of complex data transformation. They required expensive to maintain custom integration code. Modern middleware, including Web services integration, the Enterprise Service Bus (ESB) and adapters, also fall short in integrating complex data in business integration. We will discuss attributes of each below.

Web Services Integration
Web services-based integration will likely create an even greater need for a clean solution to the problem of complex data transformation. This is because Web services per se do nothing to solve the problem of data transformation. And, the transformation technology that underlies today's Web services integration solutions - eXtensible Stylesheet Language Transformation (XSLT) - does not support complex data.

Enterprise Service Buses
ESBs are optimized for XML-oriented data transformation and rely on XSLT-based tooling for defining transformations. This code is difficult if not impossible to write in XSLT, which as noted earlier, has no support for complex data.

Some technology adapters have "hooks" that allow the insertion of complex data transformation code, but this doesn't solve the problem of having to hand-code such transformations. The use of application adapters as a solution to complex data transformation will result in "spaghetti" code.

Defining the Next-Generation Data Transformation Solutions
These solutions must allow any form of enterprise data to be transformed from within one comprehensive and user-friendly environment, enabling real-time execution, eliminating costly IT developments and enhancing usability of existing infrastructure software.

Itemfield's ContentMaster TM is the next generation of data transformation, automating the transformation of complex data seamlessly into existing business integration infrastructure. Now IT environments can transform any form of enterprise data within one comprehensive, user-friendly environment.

Healthcare Company Achieves the Complexity Advantage in Business Integration
ContentMaster enabled the savings of four person-years on initial deployment/one person-year annually for maintenance.


The health services organization is one of the largest public health networks in the world and provides comprehensive health insurance, medical care and services to 16 hospitals, more than 1,300 clinics, and over 3.7 million patients. To consolidate patient records, the customer had to integrate information legacy systems and documents, including: over 300 disparate data formats; proprietary data used by hospital/clinics; complex data produced by legacy applications that could not be changed; and a variety of document formats used by hospitals and clinics that needed to be integrated.

Itemfield's ContentMaster addressed the problem of data format diversity, by using Itemfield's patented Parsing-by-Example technology to avoid custom conversion code - and the enormous development effort that would have entailed. ContentMaster eliminated the requirement to build a special conversion tool for each of the 300 formats. In addition, no maintenance was required for parsers. As a result, more than a year of development and code writing were eliminated.

The health services organization's ROI was driven by shorter development cycles, automated complex data integration; and dramatically simplified maintenance.

Financial Services Provider Estimates a 300% Improvement in Project Time-to-Market
ContentMaster enables a 500% improvement in maintenance and extensibility over old system.

The customer is one of the world's leading financial services organizations, providing equity research to private clients and market data feeds. End-users rely on information such as equity assessments to make significant buy/sell decisions. The timeliness and accuracy of this information is a key competitive edge for the customer. The customer needed to replace the existing system, and put in place a solution capable of extracting the structure of, and tracking changes to, documents coming from various data sources.


The data transformation challenges involved the extraction and change tracking of a wide variety of formats, including PDF, Word, HTML, Palm OS, Blackberry, and market data feeds. Using ContentMaster, the customer created a solution that allowed them to publish their equity research - in many different formats - to end-users in near real-time and enabled the interoperability of their disparate application and integration platforms.

With ContentMaster, enterprises can enable their core real-time enterprise computing initiatives and achieve the "complexity advantage" in business integration.

For more information on ContentMaster or a free copy of our white paper on data transformation, visit our website at

© Copyright 2004, Itemfield Inc. All Rights Reserved. Itemfield and ContentMaster are trademarks of Itemfield Inc. All other product or company names may be trademarks or registered trademarks of their respective owners.

1820 Gateway Drive Suite 360 San Mateo, CA 94404
800.838.1055 toll free
650.577.8850 phone
650.356.2190 fax

Click here for more information on Itemfield ContentMaster

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IT Solutions Guide (ITSG), aimed at development and corporate managers, is a free quarterly supplement focusing on the most competitive tools, solutions, and services available in the IT and infrastructure technology world today.

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