As the proliferation of data continues, identity resolution or entity resolution becomes a topic of greater importance. You may be wondering how such a specific technicality may affect your business. Our in-house expert, Glen Ireland actually answers that question and more on our podcast. Let’s begin with the basics.
Listen to the full podcast here:
Identity resolution is the process of matching data from multiple sources with one entity. It can also be referred to more generally as entity
resolution. Basically, when several data points are matched with a person and the association is confirmed, it is identity resolution.
For example, let’s say there’s a contact named Eric Smith in your database. You may find out from another data source that Eric Smith has a net worth of $10M. The problem is that there could be ten different people with the name Eric Smith among your contacts. Identity resolution comes in when you need to find the right one to associate the net worth with.
Not only does entity resolution affect people, but it also affects organizations. Even if your organization deals with other businesses, identity resolution could become important for you.
For example, your system may have stored IBM as IBM, International Business Machine, and as IBM Corp. When you add new data, you may add each data point to a different entity. In this case, your data will not be able to paint a holistic picture of the entity for you.
In these instances, computers cannot make judgment calls. Human intervention may be needed. Of course, when you try to achieve entity resolution at scale, you can do this through algorithms.
When it comes to your wealth data analytics, identity resolution becomes paramount. Let’s consider the case of WealthEngine. Identity resolution enables us to pre-form profiles about every adult in the US. These pre-
formed profiles allow WealthEngine to offer solutions like WE Prospect, and WE Analyze.
Furthermore, with entity resolution, you can perform a nationwide quick search. This means you can look up any individual adult in the US or create segments in the WealthEngine database.
Identity resolution lets WealthEngine procure data from several different data sources. So, each data source has its own unique identifier for each person. WealthEngine can then match all these data sources through entity resolution. This helps us build pre-formed profiles and to update and enrich them over time.
WealthEngine invests millions in acquiring high-quality data from different sources. This means you can learn more and more about Eric Smith on your contacts list with WealthEngine. This includes demographics, lifestyle, behavior, interests, and affinities. Our algorithms and data science help make sure that you have up to date and extensive information to work with.
So, how do you match data from different sources and vendors? Although this is a complex process, two basic techniques can be used. For instance, the main attributes we use to match entities are their name and primary address.
A best practice for identity resolution is standardizing the format for names. To illustrate, turn nicknames into formal names, remove any punctuation from names, etc. You may also want to standardize addresses by reformatting them. The format should match deliverable USPS addresses. Those are two basic things that can be done to enable entity resolution.
There are also other sophisticated techniques to accommodate misspellings. We use some of these advanced practices at WealthEngine. For example, a vendor might send a record with a name that’s missing one character. Similarly, there could be a street name that’s missing two characters. In these instances, we use something called edit distance algorithms. We may also use this and similar techniques to accommodate misspellings in first names, last names, or street names when ingesting vendor data.
The above were general best practices, but the process becomes complex at scale. Furthermore, as you ingest data from more sources, you need more sophisticated data science to ensure accuracy. WealthEngine’s industry-leading technology means that our clients can enjoy up to 90% match rates.
In fact, clients have confirmed that other analytics solutions offer about 30-60% while WealthEngine can get them to 90%. This is because WealthEngine has spent 20 years coming up with sophisticated techniques beyond the basics. For example, we can also use attributes like spouse name or business name to increase that metric.
This is important because both husband and wife can make a decision on something. If you’re targeting a specific individual, you may want to bear in mind that the spouse might actually be the decision-maker. These could be decisions about a donation, about buying a particular product, or using a certain financial services firm. With this being the case, it’s very important to have identity resolution be as accurate as possible.
If a record from a vendor cannot be matched to a profile, WealthEngine has to decide whether or not to create a new profile. If the record coming in from the vendor is complete enough, and it seems like a person that is not already in the database, we create a new profile. For instance, there are something like 10,000 17-year-olds turning 18 every day. They would all be eligible for being loaded into the WealthEngine database.
In other situations, a customer record may match multiple profiles. In this instance of entity resolution, let’s say you add some extra pieces of information to WealthEngine. This may cause one customer record to match multiple WealthEngine profiles. Then, WealthEngine appends information from all matching profiles to the customer record to enrich it as much as possible.
Yes, because WealthEngine sometimes has more than one profile per person. The reason behind this is that we want to shy away from over-merging. This means, you never want to use identity resolution to combine two different people. WealthEngine tends to err on the side of what’s called under-merging, where one person is represented by multiple profiles in the WealthEngine database. In fact, competing solutions may have greater inaccuracy because of this.
Identity resolution ultimately increases the accuracy of information for customers. This means you can simply search for a person and see all their information compiled into a profile. These profiles are built using data from several different sources. Thus, this presents itself as a convenience for you.
Secondly, having reliable entity resolution in place means you get higher match rates. For instance, WealthEngine match rates are very high, at about 90%. So, when you find out that Eric Smith’s net worth is $10M, you can be sure that it is the right person.
Furthermore, you can keep on enriching your contacts’ profiles with more information. With WealthEngine, the enrichment is automated in most cases. There is a small percentage of data that WealthEngine cannot match. However, with a feature called Find More in WealthEngine9, even this has a solution.
If your customer record does not match a WealthEngine profile, we will still store that record in your My Profiles tab. You can then click into the profile and do a manual identity resolution. First, use Quick Search to find what you believe is a match. Then use Find More to merge it into the uploaded record. Doing this, you can increase the match rate up to 100%. No other wealth intelligence solution can help you do this.
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