The best way I know to explain Identity and Entity resolution, is by using an analogy. Let’s say a detective is at the scene of a crime. They luck out and are able to pull fingerprints from the crime scene. The detectives can then determine how many people were at the crime scene, based on the number of unique fingerprints. This is entity resolution. The crime lab matched 2 unique fingerprints to “unknown” real world entities.
Next, they might run those fingerprints through a crime database, which contains fingerprints of known criminals. This would be identity resolution. Where each fingerprint connects to an Identity. Ultimately using entity + identity resolution, the detectives connect the real world objects and their relationship together. Fingerprints to real humans in the database.
Now, let’s leave the detective world and connect it to dealerships. Most data points in a database link to a real world object (physical address, phone number, name, last name, email address, vehicle, etc). Most of these real world objects don’t change (a car keeps its VIN until its salvaged, a physical address remains on a house from the time of building onwards). But the relationships connected to real world objects are constantly shifting. Cars are sold, emails are shared, phone numbers are discontinued or assigned to other people, people move, people change last names, etc. This is where things get complicated. Let’s take a deeper dive into what these terms mean to get a better grasp of why they are needed for your database’s sake.
Entity resolution is the process of determining if multiple records refer to the same real-world entity, such as a person, organization, address, phone number, bank account or device. Here is a visual of what this looks like and the challenges with this process…