Resolving what’s meant by ‘identity resolution’

Pre703 Resolving whats meant by identity resolution

“In 2017, identity resolution will become a strategic imperative for brands as the race for consumer attention and loyalty intensifies.”That’s the forecast from marketing software company, Signal Technologies, which it has fleshed out in a report “How Digital Marketing Will Change in 2017: What Marketers Need to Know Now."

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However the report does not precisely define what it means by identity resolution. The nearest it gets is in its concluding advice, which states: “Identity resolution is not a one-and-done. Rather, it is best viewed as an ongoing process. To optimize this process, marketers must think holistically about all of their customer data collection and application needs.”

The report then goes on to explain: “The process must recognise that the customer journey can move rapidly across devices and channels. It must account for the growing array of connected devices used by today’s always-on consumers, such as smartphones, smart TVs, in-car screens, in-store beacons, check-out/payment systems, wearables and voice-activated personal assistants like the Amazon Echo. And it must adapt to an ever-changing ecosystem of marketing activation vendors.”

What that seems to be saying is that customer services organisations need to tap all available sources of data about their customers and those customers’ interactions, and to ensure data from these disparate sources is co-ordinated.

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It’s an issue we’ve addressed several times in this column in the past year, for example in “Centralising customer data is a major challenge”.

However, this is more correctly described as ‘customer identity management’, and is pretty much what Signal is talking about. As the report says: “Identity means much more than just knowing a customer’s name. It means knowing what a customer wants, needs and where she is in her buyer journey. It means realising the opportunities to improve the relationship by solving her problems, anticipating her needs or purely delighting.

“Simply put, identity is the connecting point between all consumer interactions, online and off, past and present. As such, it’s the foundation for all consumer engagements — across the web, mobile apps, stores, email, digital ads, call centres and beyond.”

This differs from the more generally accepted idea of identity resolution, for example as defined by Technopedia. “Identity resolution is a data management process through which an identity is searched and analysed between disparate data sets and databases to find a match and/or resolve identities.”

A similar but rather fuller definition comes from Experian. “Identity resolution is an operational intelligence process, typically powered by an identity resolution engine whereby businesses can connect separate data sources with a view to make possible identity matches and non-obvious relationships across multiple databases.”

It goes on to say that identity resolution “analyses all of the information relating to individuals and/or entities from multiple sources of data, and then applies likelihood and probability scoring to determine which identities are a match and what, if any, non-obvious relationships exist between those identities.”

And for customer service organisations it’s just as important as customer identity management. One of the most common, and simplest applications for identity resolution is making sure that entries in marketing lists whether used for direct mail, email marketing or outbound calling are unique so customers and potential customers don’t get put offside by multiple approaches.

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