The Hub Designs MDM Think Tank recently received a briefing from Martin Turvey, CEO of Loqate.
by Julie Hunt
It’s always great to get a briefing from a very knowledgeable and flexible founder of a young company: tapping into original vision that has been tempered by the experience of customer implementations can be a rich experience. Recently the MDM Think Tank chatted with Martin Turvey, CEO of Loqate, about location intelligence and data quality. Loqate may be a young company, but in many ways, it is not a “start-up” due to the extensive expertise of founders Turvey and Paul Flew, in the areas of address quality practices and location intelligence — and the technologies that support them. Flew’s strong NLP (natural language processing) background is also an important asset for Loqate.
For most businesses, accurate address data is essential; poor address quality costs companies tons of money and lost customers. Not only is missing address information a problem, but inconsistent address data across repositories impedes data synchronization and calls into question the accuracy of all of the data. Turvey provided an interesting point: over 80% of data has a location element (source: PBBI). This means that verifying and cleansing address data, and then adding geocoding, can greatly enhance the usability of this data.
Use cases for location intelligence include: fraud detection, insurance risk assessments, improving mailing and shipping operations, real time mapping of web content and news feeds. Loqate maintains a repository of reference data comprised of address, geocodes, languages and other data covering 242 countries and territories.
Loqate is one of the few independent software vendors for address quality / location intelligence services, since most of the other vendors have been acquired by the usual suspects. Traditional data management stacks from the large infrastructure vendors are not an option for many companies, especially in emerging markets and the larger international arenas for address quality needs.
So Loqate is positioning its independence as a competitive differentiator that allows it to target solution niches not usually covered by the big infrastructure vendors. This positioning is strengthened by Loqate solution innovation and future direction, including an upcoming Cloud / SaaS offering. Turvey commented that most MDM solutions fail at what Loqate does well for address quality and location intelligence. As to sales model, the Loqate solution is only available through Loqate partner companies that OEM or sub-license the technology.
The components of Loqate are broken down into: Verify, Geocode, Register, and Identify. Additional technology includes the Geo-Data Quality Engine and the Global Knowledge Repository.
In Verify, where validation and clean up are performed, powerful differentiation exists in the parsing methodology. Based on lexicon and context, parsing algorithms understand what the data should be, based on context parameters. Loqate parsing capabilities analyze and remediate data in situ, and do the hard work on single strings without breaking the string into components first. In fact, the string’s structural context provides cues for Loqate’s parsing / validation. Most other data quality tools require users to do quite a bit of hands-on mapping and other tedious work as preparation for remediation. This isn’t the case for Loqate Verify. Parsing is also trans-global for processing records and strings with mixed international character and language sets. Data can also be transliterated from one character set to another character set (e.g. Roman to Katakana in Japan)
Turvey cited a use case for Fraud Detection: cheats will use fake addresses made up of components that are valid on an individual basis (real street address, real city), but in combination the components do not add up to a valid address. Most other address quality and data quality solutions will vet the individual components but not the composite, which means they may validate a fraudulent address.
Loqate provides real value by trapping errors at data entry time when remediation is at the cheapest point. It’s also essential to trap inconsistencies at data entry to prevent fraud and block bad data from infecting processes such as shipping that can greatly impact costs.
Geocoding is available for every address data element “out of the box”. The geocode assignment results from high granularity generation of a latitude-longitude coordinate for any address worldwide. From the geocode a map visualization can be created, accurate to delivery point / rooftop levels.
Register provides smart data entry to reduce errors and speed up operational processes. This is particularly useful when working with customers, whether it’s a call center employee talking to a customer or a self-service interface for eCommerce.
Identify: The Loqate Entity Extraction module enables location, additional geographic and contact information to be identEified and extracted from web content and other unstructured information sources. LocationV extractions enable content to be localized, driving location-based services and geographically targeted advertising.
Loqate has included the ability to quantify address data quality through its Accuracy Code analysis. A verification accuracy match score portrays the similarity between input data and the closest reference data match as a percentage between 0 and 100, with 100 as best match, as well as detailing what changes have been made to each key component during processing and determining validity of those components.
Right now, user tweaking is limited and is mainly accomplished through processing rules. There is no means as yet to tweak algorithms. Loqate is taking a slow approach here, being careful not to lead users astray, since algorithm changes can end in unexpected and harmful consequences.
Next up for Loqate is an impending Cloud / SaaS offering that should be available Spring 2012. Loqate is touting their Cloud services as “developer source for anything location”. It is also a great opportunity for further innovation since the Cloud can take software vendors in some very interesting directions.
About the author: Julie Hunt is a software industry strategist and analyst, providing market and competitive insights. Her 25+ years as a software professional range from the very technical side to customer-centric work in solutions consulting, sales and marketing. Julie shares her takes on the software industry via her blog Highly Competitive and on Twitter at @juliebhunt For more information, please visit Julie Hunt Consulting – Strategic Product & Market Intelligence Services.