The Growing Role of Identity Resolution in MDM

By Dan Power, President and Founder, Hub Solution Designs

There definitely seems to be a trend lately with small companies in the master data management (MDM) and data quality space being purchased (as in the asset acquisition of Exeros by IBM) or partnering with larger firms (such as Silver Creek Systems’ OEM relationship with Oracle).

I think this is a good thing. Using the classic “build, buy or ally” strategy, it isn’t surprising that sometimes companies will conclude that it’s faster and/or cheaper to buy a technology, or partner with another company that has that technology, rather than build it themselves internally.

A lot of companies do tend to suffer from the “not invented here” syndrome, where anything not developed inside their four walls tends to be regarded with disdain. But that tendency leads to a much slower pace of innovation. In very competitive industries like enterprise software, getting there faster is a very definite advantage.

Since I’ve been working with the identity resolution experts at Infoglide, I’ve become much more aware of the role identity resolution technology plays in our daily lives. Every time you get on an airplane, file an insurance claim, apply for a job / mortgage / credit card, or even shop in a retail store or on a web site, your identity is probably being evaluated by an Identity Resolution Engine.

A lot of people in the MDM space refer to this as “matching”, but there’s considerably more to Identity Resolution than the sophisticated pattern matching that most MDM hub platforms use today. The more robust form – Identity Resolution – is mostly used currently for sophisticated applications like terrorist screening and anti-money laundering, where big consequences or big dollar amounts are at stake.

But that technology is gradually filtering down to more routine commercial applications like master data management for customers. The large MDM vendors like Oracle, IBM and SAP – and the smaller vendors like Siperian, Initiate Systems and D&B/Purisma – will follow the “build, buy or ally” pattern, with some opting to create their own more sophisticated Entity Resolution capabilities, some buying smaller firms who already have those advanced products, or perhaps partnering as a middle ground between building and buying.

Either way, this trend is good both for specialized companies like Infoglide and for the general public. We’ll all be a little safer getting on a plane, a little less likely to suffer from identity theft or confusion, and perhaps save a little money through reduced incidence of various types of fraud.

Full-fledged Identity Resolution is a capability that most MDM hubs should plan on adding in the next revision cycle or two, as MDM customers become more discriminating and more demanding of their hub’s ability to identify individuals and businesses from an ever-growing stream of data.

Dan Power is president of Hub Solution Designs, a consulting firm specializing in master data management and data governance. He writes a popular blog and a column for Information Management magazine, speaks frequently at technology conferences, and regularly advises clients on developing & implementing high impact MDM and data governance strategies.

4 Responses to “The Growing Role of Identity Resolution in MDM”

  1. Jairaj Says:

    Agreed, Identity resolution is very critical, in certain industry. Risk management and reduction of exposure to defaults by clientele has made Banks aggressively focus on Identity resolution. Considering the fact every person is related to each other at least within six degree to separation, it means whom you know has a huge bearing on how your identity gets resolved. Recently while attending a Information management technical conference hosted by IBM, there was a huge interest around the offering Entity Analytic Solutions which bears lots of features where Identity is resolved based on anonymous factors and relationship factors.

  2. Dan Power Says:

    Jairaj, you’re right that robust Identity Resolution is critical, particularly in the financial services industry. False positives and false negatives can carry big consequences from a risk and exposure management perspective.

    IBM’s Entity Analytic Solution and Infoglide’s Identity Resolution Engine are the two leading products, and D&B’s corporate hierarchy information can be helpful as well, when you’re trying to build business-to-business relationships.

    Wikipedia has a good write-up on the subject at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Identity_resolution

  3. Clayton Forrester Says:

    Of course Identity Resolution is very important for MDM - but most of the serious MDM vendors have already recognized this for years!

    Of the vendors you list in your post - IBM owns Entity Analytics, Initiate has their own sophisticated identity resolution, and Oracle, Siperian and Purisma/D&B have been licensing Informatica’s Identity resolution for at least 4 years.

    The only one who has not got the “message” is SAP.

  4. Dan Power Says:

    Recognizing that identity resolution is a core element of MDM is not the same thing as having the best technology in that area.

    I think the IBM and Initiate identity resolution offerings are pretty strong, but for those who have chosen to license Informatica’s solution, that could be increasingly problematic, as I expect Informatica to gradually transition to being a full-fledged MDM vendor itself.

    I think you’ll see the Informatica licensees eventually develop their own identity resolution solutions, or perhaps acquire companies like Infoglide.

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