We are continuously struggling with defining what it is we are doing like defining: What is data quality? What is Master Data? Lately I’ve been involved in discussions around: What is Identity Resolution? A current discussion on this topic is rolling in the Data Matching LinkedIn group.
This discussion has roots in one of my blog posts called Entity Revolution vs Entity Evolution. Jeffrey Huth of IBM Initiate followed up with the post Entity Resolution & MDM: Interchangeable? In January Phillip Howard of Bloor made a post called There’s identity resolution and then there’s identity resolution (followed up by a correction post the other day called My bad).
It is a “same same but different” discussion. Traditional data matching (or record linkage) as seen in a data quality tool and master data management solution is the bright view: Being about finding duplicates and making a “single business partner view” (or “single party view” or “single customer view”). Identity resolution is the dark view: Preventing fraud and catching criminals, terrorists and other villains.
The Gartner Hype Cycle describes the dark view as ”Entity Resolution and Analysis”. This discipline is approaching the expectation peak and will, according to Gartner, be absorbed by other disciplines as no one can tell the difference I guess.
Certainly there are poles. In an article from 2006 called Identity Resolution and Data Integration David Loshin said: There is a big difference between trying to determine if the same person is being mailed two catalogs instead of one and determining if the individual boarding the plane is on the terrorist list.
But there is also a grey zone.
From a business perspective for example the prevention of misuse of a restricted campaign offer is a bit of both sides. Here you want to avoid that an existing customer is using an offer only meant for new customers. How does that apply to members of the same household or the same company family tree? Or you want to avoid someone using an introduction offer twice by typing her name and address a bit different.
From a technical perspective I have an example from working with a newspaper in a big fraud scam described in the post Big Time ROI in Identity Resolution. Here I had no trouble using a traditional deduplication tool in discovering non-obvious relationships. Also the relationships discovered in traditional data matching ends up quite nicely in hierarchy management as part of master data management as described in the post Fuzzy Hierarchy Management.
And then there is the use of the words identity (resolution) versus entity (resolution).
My feeling is that we could use identity resolution for describing all kind of matching and linking with party master data and entity resolution could be used for describing all kind of matching and linking with all master data entity types as seen in multi-domain master data management. But that’s just my words.