Every year around this time, Raab Associates updates its Guide to Customer Matching Systems. After changes for each vendor have been posted, we have a rare opportunity to step back and look for larger patterns. Here's what we saw.

Search-based technologies. Most of today's commercial customer matching systems (such as those from Firstlogic, Group 1, Trillium, Innovative Systems and DataMentors) were originally designed to merge records into mailing lists or customer databases. However, another set of products has now appeared, with roots in searches against police, medical or immigration files. This set of products includes those from Search Software America, Intelligent Search Technology and ChoiceMaker. Like merge-oriented systems, the search products ultimately compare records to determine whether they match. However, the search systems generally apply more sophisticated mechanisms when selecting records to compare and are less dependent on parsing and standardization for accurate results.

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