IBM Corp has made a swoop for privately-held name recognition technology firm Language Analysis Systems Inc. Financial terms of deal have not been disclosed.
LAS, which is based in Herndon, Virginia, specializes in the development of so-called multi-culturally aware software which analyzes name data in a cultural context.
The company’s patented software verifies the origin and meaning of names. It works by comparing and analyzing name-based attributes against a repository of one billion names. These attributes include nicknames, titles, formatting variations and typographical syntax. The output is typically presented as a scoring system — for example, the name Hussein has a 95% chance of being Arabic.
LAS’ technology will find an immediate home in IBM’s EAS (Entity Analytics Solutions) division which really drove this acquisition.
EAS was formed after IBM’s acquisition of Las Vegas-based identity management firm SRD (Systems R&D) Software in January 2005.
Last month IBM pledged to invest $1bn in providing services for delivering reliable and accurate information to businesses. Identity resolution forms a key part of that strategy, though its thought that the LAS deal isn’t factored into that sum.
According to Andrew Friedrich, worldwide market manager for EAS portfolio, LAS’ technology provides an important link in the overall value proposition of EAS’ identity resolution solution offerings by providing deeper insights into the multicultural variations of name data.
EAS’ ability is to recognize accurately the identity of people based on analyzing multiple attributes. We see the name attribute as sitting at the top of the pile within hierarchy of identifying who an individual is.
LAS’ technology tackles a sticky issue in IT — multiple cultural variations and use of name data in global settings. Friedrich said, as an example, that the name Andrew might well be represented in one particular way in the US. But in Europe it might be seen as Andre or Andreas. Reconciling these subtle cultural nuances is where LAS’ technology excels, he said.
LAS does one thing — names — and it does this better than anyone else, he added. He pointed out that over the past 20 years LAS has built up considerable domain expertise in this domain and its technology has refined the process of matching, managing, parsing and profiling cultural variations of name data down to a fine art.
Its inclusion into our EAS solutions portfolio gives us the most global offering in the market right now.
In the future Friedrich expects LAS’ technology to be leveraged across more and more of the IBM solutions stack. That’s because the technology is thought to be applicable for a variety of applications and industries ranging from anti-fraud, compliance and healthcare cost savings.
Many companies are striving for to get a 360 view of their customer. But before you can get this view you have to go through certain pre-processing stages one of which is name recognition.
EAS is widely used in areas like government and financial services. And an awful lot of what we do is around fraud. But our BCS guys can do some interesting things with this technology in developing solutions that require accurate identity.
Practical uses of LAS’ technology can be found in several areas, including: airlines, for identifying duplicate passenger names in reservation systems to manage seat availability; retailers, to weed out return-scams without proof of receipt by identifying customer name variations at POS systems; and medical organizations, for verifying and matching medical test data against patient chart data and guard against duplicated healthcare claims.
LAS is IBM’s 17th technology acquisition since 2001. Friedrich said that all 22 employees would be kept at the existing Herndon location.