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Digital Identity by Phillip J. Windley

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Identity Data Structure and Metadata

The inventory has created a database of the identity data in use, and the audit has gathered a lot of information about each data source. One of our goals is to establish an authoritative source for each identity. One of the barriers is inconsistent usage and content for identities that should be the same. There are five basic ways that identities can be inconsistent across different data sources:

  • Inconsistent use of identifiers for the same data. Your organization might have several data records that are used to store customer identities. The identifier in one might be the database record number, another might use the SSN, and a third might use a company-assigned customer number.

  • Inconsistent values for the same data in a field. The customer's name might be stored as a single value in one identity record, split into first and last name in a second, and a third might store middle initial and suffix.

  • Inconsistent names for fields that carry the same data. One identity record may store the customer's last name in a field called lname and another might call it lastname. These are called synonym fields.

  • Inconsistent meaning for field names. Two identity records might use the field name phone, but one might use it to store the phone number of the customer and the other might use it as a flag to indicate that the salesperson should make a follow-up phone call to the customer. These are called homonym fields.

  • Inconsistent representation. One customer identity ...

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