In 2003, Richard J. De Lotto and Kimberly Collins at Gartner published The ‘Name Is the Game’, a five-page document about Language Analysis Systems (LAS), a small US company specialised in Name recognition. This company had been around for almost twenty years, with hardly any relevant competitor. In fact, it was a “Sole Source Provider” to the US Government for 17 years, meaning that the US administration could find no good alternative at the time. Born in the US during the Cold War, LAS primary market was intelligence and security agencies. Apart from its software product and team of experts, LAS had a major asset: a database of about one billion international names from all countries (that’s about 100% of the population of the more developed countries, so it probably included my name). Given the development of the Internet at the time, it’s unlikely that those names were collected from open sources. More likely, they were collected as part of a mutually benefiting collaboration with US agencies. After thriving on the surge in US security and foreign intelligence budgets post-9/11, LAS considered diversification and started to address other markets: Marketing and Financial Services Compliance.
LAS was acquired by IBM in 2006. In his blog, Jeff Jonas of IBM decribes the benefits of bridging Name resolution and Identity resolution. Today, LAS technology is part of The IBM® InfoSphere® suite of products and is known as IBM Entity Analytics Solutions or IBM Global Name Analytics. So what can it do?
Among other features, given a person name the software can predict (with probabilities): its cultural and linguistic classification, country of origin, gender and spelling variants.
Ain’t It Cool ?
NamSor™ Applied Onomastics is a European vendor of Name Recognition Software (NamSor sorts names). NamSor mission is to help understand international flows of money, ideas and people.
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