By David Loshin

In my last post, I introduced the concept of data enhancement as a collection of methods for adding information to a data set to increase its utility, and suggested that there are a number of scenarios where enhancement adds business value. In this post, we’ll look at two examples that show ways that data enhancement can be incorporated into

operational scenarios.

We can start with a very common use of enhancement: postal standardization and address correction. A delivery address describes a specific location to which an item can be delivered.
In the United States, it is usually composed of a street name, a street number, a city name, a state identifier, and a postal code. When executing a sales transaction, you would probably want to make sure that you have a valid delivery address to ensure that the purchased products can be sent to the customer. So although there is a wide variety of ways that people could assemble a delivery address, the address data can be submitted to an address validation and correction enhancement process to ensure proper delivery.

Another common example involves individual’s names, which can appear in data records in different ways: first name followed by last name, last name with a comma, followed by first name, with or without titles such as “Mr.” or “Professor,” different generational suffixes. In a recent conversation with some colleagues at the US Census Bureau, they shared with me that they have over 1000 different patterns for ways that names can appear in data.

Again, a data standardization and enhancement process can parse out the key components of a person name, fill in the blanks (if necessary) through lookups in master data tables, and reorganize those components into a format so that a customer’s identity can be established for verification purposes when providing customer service at an inbound call center.

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