Improving Effectiveness with Senzing Entity Resolution

Q&A with Mike Barrett, Head of AML Product at NICE Actimize

By Senzing, published October 13, 2022

NICE Actimize provides real-time, cross-channel fraud prevention, anti-money laundering (AML) detection, and trading surveillance solutions. The company augments its industry-leading anti-money laundering solutions by embedding real-time entity resolution capabilities from Senzing into its products. Entity resolution, also known as identity resolution, enables financial services organizations to more accurately identify entities, find elusive and non-obvious relationships, and detect suspicious activity. NICE Actimize was recently named a leader in The Forrester Wave on Anti-Money-Laundering Solutions (Q3 2022).

We sat down with Mike Barrett, head of anti-money laundering products at NICE Actimize, for a Q&A session. The topics discussed include the business and technical reasons NICE Actimize decided to embed Senzing® entity resolution into its AML product suite and what this decision has meant for the company and its customers. Read on to learn more about what NICE Actimize’s decision to use Senzing technology for identity resolution has meant for the company and its customers.

1. What were the business problems you were trying to solve with entity resolution?

Our key driver was around data connectivity – and not just for our customers’ data, but also for data from external data providers. Data connectivity is more important now than ever before. We have several initiatives across Actimize where we’re bringing together insights from different solutions. We’re also bringing cloud technologies together. And the only way we can do this with confidence is to make sure that data is resolved as we connect it.

Our customers’ data complexity has increased exponentially over time. They have more banking systems that must be integrated and are also launching increased numbers of different products to stay competitive, which means the diversity of customer data itself is growing in complexity. The market has been asking us for entity resolution capabilities. We’ve had customers tell us they don’t have complete confidence in their own data flows, and they need some help. We also had several internal projects that required us to focus on connecting data together in a smarter way.

2. Why did to you decide to add entity resolution to your products now?

The need for an entity-centric approach to AML – one that provides customers with a holistic perspective of risk – became apparent to us some years ago. We’ve been busy building those capabilities into our products over the past couple of years. Instead of just delivering output from individual point solutions, we wanted to combine insights from all of the Actimize solutions. The combination allows financial crime investigators to gain an even greater understanding of entities involved in suspicious activities, including their relationship networks and other duplicate entities in the system.

Our initiative – to provide insights brought together from all of our solutions – was a big driver in the decision to add new entity resolution and relationship detection capabilities to our entire AML product suite now instead of waiting.

3. What were the technology challenges you were trying to solve with entity resolution?

In addition to accuracy, we had demanding requirements for both scalability and performance. We needed to ensure that the solution we chose would scale to the volumes we needed and perform at the transaction speeds we required. This is very important for our real-time processes because our customers can’t wait two minutes for a decision. Decisions are required instantly.

4. Why did you choose Senzing over other options? Did you look at building it yourself?

We had entity matching technology that we built in house, but the solution lacked automation and other key features. Rather than developing out these capabilities ourselves, we decided it would be better to use proven and mature commercial entity resolution technology. We started knocking on a few doors to see what was out there and who would be the best partner. We looked at several different organizations and decided Senzing was the best fit for us. We felt the Senzing team would help us deliver on our business and technology needs in the most effective way.

We were specifically looking for an entity resolution engine, not an application that included many other types of functionality and user interfaces that we didn’t need. The fact that Senzing provided an engine and flexible APIs made for a good marriage in terms of being able to fit with the rest of our technology stack in a way that wasn’t invasive. With Senzing APIs, we get to choose the capabilities and benefits we want, call them as we need to, and do what we want with the results.

We liked the fact that the Senzing engine comes with preconfigured principles and is already pre-tuned, which we recognized would help make it easy and simple for us to go to market. The Senzing engine is also extensible, so we can easily add new principles and models to meet the bespoke needs of some of our largest and most complex customers.

In addition, Senzing provided the support for global names and addresses that many of our customers require. Internationalization is critical for our global customer base.

5. What are the business benefits Actimize has realized from using Senzing entity resolution? How do your customers benefit?

The most important business benefit we’ve realized from Senzing entity resolution is improved detection from our core money laundering identification systems. Customers are seeing better accuracy and better coverage because Senzing technology is detecting duplicate entities and reducing profile dilution.

In addition, the ability to find hidden relationships and networks has enabled our technology to do some very interesting new things and delivered valuable benefits to customers.

The bottom line is that with Senzing entity resolution embedded in NICE Actimize’s AML solutions, our customers can now find suspicious behavior more effectively and efficiently than they could before.

6. What are the technology benefits Actimize has realized from Senzing? How do customers benefit?

We were able to integrate the Senzing engine quite seamlessly without adding additional data pipelines. We use the same data flows customers already have configured into Actimize. Customers just see the entity resolution results and don’t have to worry operationally about feeding Senzing extra data.

With Senzing entity resolution embedded in our technology, we’re issuing fewer false positive alerts. That’s because we’re detecting more anomalies and patterns in the data and producing more accurate profiles. The Senzing technology also enables us to perform more advanced behavioral monitoring, make new decisions about how to profile data, calculate duplication levels, and determine where duplicate entities exist within customers’ systems.

In terms of deployment – because the Senzing technology is containerized – it’s very portable and can be rapidly deployed across all three of our deployment modes (on-prem, cloud, or hybrid). We’ve seen customers deploy Senzing entity resolution and achieve results in one to two days, which is fast for enterprise technology.

We also like the flexibility Senzing offers in terms of its support for different operating environments. We have a diverse market. Some customers are Windows oriented, and some aren’t. The ability to serve that full spectrum – including Oracle, SQL Server, and various cloud technologies – is important. It just makes everything even easier.

From a governance perspective, Senzing provides capabilities our customers need, including support for full auditing and traceability logs, and explanations about why decisions were made. Senzing also spent a lot of time clearly and accurately documenting their APIs, which makes it easy for our technical teams to understand what the technology is supposed to do.

7. How have you liked working with the Senzing team?

The Senzing team has delivered excellent value so far. Whenever we’ve faced complex decisions that required some serious thought, the entity resolution experts at Senzing have worked with us to determine the best approach.

From my perspective, the healthy collaboration, open culture, and transparency between our organizations have been extremely important. I’m impressed with how well our teams have worked together to bridge any gaps or find new ways to help customers get excellent results. We’ve also been grateful when Senzing team members have been willing to jump on the phone at a moment’s notice whenever we’ve needed more in-depth support.

If you’d like to learn more about how you can benefit from embedding Senzing® entity resolution into your software, schedule a call with an entity resolution expert.