RealTime IT News

IBM Buy is All in The Name Recognition

IBM today built on its ability to verify identities on computers, acquiring Language Analysis Systems (LAS) for an undisclosed sum.

Privately held LAS makes name-recognition software that provides businesses and government agencies with a window into the properties of names based on language and cultural characteristics.

The Herndon, Va., company's software analyzes and compares factors associated with nearly 1 billion names from around the world, including nicknames, titles, format changes and typographical errors.

The software is used to fight global money laundering and fraud by helping financial service providers and other organizations finger criminals who try to mask their identities using multiple variations of their name.

The software can also ensure compliance with government regulations by helping banks or insurance carriers avoid providing services to known criminals.

Drew Friedrich, worldwide market manager for IBM's Entity Analytics Solutions (EAS) portfolio, said the move will give IBM customers access to experts in managing the multicultural variations of name data.

"One of the things that makes this difficult on a global stage is that people can use multiple cultural variations of their name," Friedrich said. "The name 'Andrew' may be represented one way in the United States, but in Europe it might be 'Andreas,' or 'Andre'."

"I could vary my name culturally, and a lot of systems today wouldn't recognize me as being who I actually am. It's a key step along the road of resolving an identity."

IBM will apply LAS's software to local, state and global law enforcement, similar to what it does with the identity resolution technology it acquired from SRD Software last year.

For example, police officers will be able to decode unfamiliar names and match them up against criminal datasets to determine a subject's true identity.

The technology might also thwart retail scams by customers who take products off store shelves and return them without a receipt for credit using different variations of their names as identification.

The LAS technology, combined with IBM's identity resolution software, can be used to verify the names and identities of these fraudsters while they're at the return counter.

LAS extends Big Blue's information as a service strategy for delivering businesses reliable and unfettered information with speed and accuracy.

IBM last month vowed to pump $1 billion into this venture over the next three years, although this LAS deal is not included in that figure.