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5. Matching and Merging
Standardized records rarely match exactly. Personal data is always changing. People move. Individuals may provide a work phone number during one interaction and a mobile number during another interaction. Many people also have multiple addresses (e.g., primary and vacation homes), multiple phone numbers (e.g., fixed landline and mobile), and multiple email addresses (e.g., personal and work).
The objective of matching systems is to build a Golden Master Record that references the data of matched records. Without that capability, a customer could appear multiple times.
An important technique known as “cascading” helps to confidently build a complete Golden Master Record even when some attributes disagree and to fill in incomplete information.
For cascading to work, matching tolerances must be established individually for each attribute. The match tolerance for any given attribute may differ based on the geography. As mentioned earlier, in some densely populated locations, such as Hong Kong, sub-premises detail is important. The weight placed upon address components in Hong Kong would be higher than in a smaller city.
The art in the process of matching is to understand the importance of each attribute in a particular geography and to set the match threshold accordingly. Significant local knowledge and experience are required to get this right.