When processing and matching data, parsing is a fundamental necessity. Any weakness in parsing accuracy or ability will become immediately evident by dramatically lowering matching accuracy. The most effective data quality software programs will emphasize and implement parsing with an extremely high level of accuracy. Microsoft Excel is very familiar to most professionals, and can be an effective and easy way to keep track of large amounts of data. Although, without a strong Excel Add-In like Aim-Smart that data is very hard to parse into usable pieces or match once the data has been parsed in to usable pieces.
One of the challenges when parsing using computers is identifying what each piece of data represents. The human mind does this almost automatically. As an example when matching a name you can have several parts, like “Mr. Stephen A Johnston Esq.” but they may or may not be represented in possible matches. If users were trying to match “Mr. Stephen A Johnston Esq.” There are several formats it could be listed in. Possible listings could be, “Johnston, Stephen A”, “S Aaron Johnston Esq.”, “Mr. Stephen Arron Johnston” and many more. When a computer knows what each part of the full name is (i.e. title, first name, last name, suffix) it increases effectiveness greatly when looking for matches. Things as simple as recognizing that a title may or may not be present, or which word is a last name are necessities when a user needs accurate matches. The most common and effective way around this problem is to divide an entry in to the individual parts so that a user can assign the type of data to each part. Labeling and dividing these pieces is easy for an individual user when dealing with small numbers of entries, but when dealing with large lists of data it would take far too much time. This is where a computer capable of accurate parsing is so important.
While parsing is important for data storage. Inaccurate parsing is ultimately no help at all when users want to match their parsed data. In order to implement the best quality of parsing the best software programs use several different processes to determine what to label each piece of data. There are multiple filters data may pass through before being assigned a label. These filters can be as simple as identifying if a piece of data only contains number or being compared to very specific lists of data for a match. Looking at an address we can see this possible issues first hand. 871 Thornton Pkwy, Ste. 109 for an example. A computer will not know how each number applies to an address. Through numerous filters the parsing software identifies if a number is the street number, unit number or street name. A well-built parsing program will then return the street address divided in to accurate categories. In the case of the earlier example it would return
Street Number: 871
Street Name: Thornton
Street Type: Pkwy
Unit Type: Ste
Unit Number: 109
This process ensures that a piece of data is labeled correctly. From that point on the data can be stored or matched with other data, matching accuracy is dramatically improved by having data parsed correctly.
In the end, parsing is important for different reasons. This is why accurate parsing is an important foundation for dealing with any amount of data.