IBM Snaps Up Nickname Know-How

IBM is purchasing Language Analysis Systems, a maker of software that matches names and aliases across different languages, to add to its Information on Demand push.

IBM is purchasing Language Analysis Systems, a maker of software that matches names and aliases across languages and cultures to track individual identities, the company announced on March 16.

LAS is yet another piece to fit into IBMs Information on Demand puzzle.

LAS, a privately held company, makes technology that verifies the origin, cultural variations and meanings of names by analyzing factors commonly associated with nearly 1 billion names worldwide, including nicknames, titles, format changes and typographical errors.

The technology is used for such purposes as fighting global money laundering and fraud.

Mike Schroeck, IBMs global lead for Business Consulting Services, based in Armonk, N.Y., said in an interview with eWEEK that banks right now are very conscious about, and have to do regulatory reporting around, major transactions that look at all peculiar.

"Terrorist and other individuals like that are transacting very large transactions at banks around the world, using lots of different names and aliases," he said. "And banks, depending on where theyre located, are translating names into different languages."

LAS technology enables banks to analyze names and aliases across all systems in real time to identify alternate name versions and aliases as belonging to a single individual who could potentially be a terrorist or the perpetrator of a fraudulent transaction, Schroeck said.

The technology can also be used for weeding out fraudulent insurance claims. If an individual is using various names or aliases to put forth fraudulent claims around the world, LAS technology helps to quickly associate the names across languages.

/zimages/2/28571.gifClick here for News Editor Lisa Vaas take on what IBM is doing to assist real-time law enforcement.

Another real-world use of the technology is to help prevent the illegal sale of frequent flyer miles, Schroeck said, particularly now that airlines have plans that allow users to accrue miles globally that can be used domestically. Tracking illegal mileage-bartering across languages is crucial in such a scenario, he said.

LAS is the 17th IBM Information Management division acquisition since 2001, and the latest to serve the on-demand initiative, through which IBM aims to tackle most every aspect of accessing, managing and delivering information more quickly.

"Look at the path weve been on with Information on Demand, and this, in terms of where were going with helping clients address the largest and most complex business challenges, is what its all about," Schroeck said. "It started in investments such as Ascential, in being able to address helping customers to bring together large volumes of structured and unstructured information, across enterprises, in batch and real-time mode, and also dealing with data quality, which is very important."

As with its recent purchases of iPhrase, DWL and SRD, IBM said it plans to use LAS software in new ways and in new industries—particularly industries with which IBM has deep experience, such as real-time law enforcement, health care document streamlining and retail scam avoidance.

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IBM and LAS have already been working on turning the technology into products, mostly in conjunction with federal government projects. Now that the deal has been finalized, Schroeck said, IBM will move fast to get the technology into strategic industries such as banks, retail and law enforcement.

No details were given on the financial aspects of the purchase. Schroeck said IBM expects it to close by the end of the first quarter of 2006.

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