‘Advanced data integration software translating into bottom-line gains for your business.’
Black Oak is a next-generation data solutions provider that leverages its advanced entity resolution software platform (HiPER) to enable clients to create actionable, comprehensive views of data with unparalleled speed and scale, even when no PII is available. Founded in 2007, the company is headquartered in Little Rock, Arkansas.
Black Oak’s primary software solution – the High Performance Entity Resolution system (HiPER) – is an entity identity information management (EIIM) system that supports the full lifecycle of entity identity information. HiPER is one of the most advanced Big Data ER systems in the industry.
Candid Conversation with the Key Executives
Can you share the experience of your first project roll on?
HiPER’s first install was for a statewide department of education. The goal was to not only analyze their current data quality, but link all of their records across all of their systems and sources. Our work has since enabled all teachers and administrators, at every school in the state, to accurately pull up all records and data about each student. Initially the project, of course, had a learning curve but prepared our data scientists, developers, and delivery staff to become more experienced plugging HiPER into production environments.
What challenges did you face in your initial year?
Moving to Hadoop MapReduce and adjusting to the paradigm shift involved in moving to “big data” frameworks was challenging. Designing an entity resolution software that could scale to billions of records required a different thought process than designing more traditional database solutions.
Also, our first database solution limited the number of customers we could reach. We decided to make the solution scalable by investing in a complete re-engineering of our database server model to run on the Hadoop Distributed File System (HDFS) platform using Hadoop MapReduce. Not only did the new solution have almost unlimited scalability, to our surprise we found that we did not need to maintain both a database and a Hadoop solution. In our testing we discovered the Hadoop system would perform as well as or outperform the database solution on a single machine by simply setting up a virtual Hadoop cluster with VMware.
What were the grounds on which you have expanded your company and its offerings over the years?
We started with limited data quality solutions, but we decided to focus on an extremely specialized data management area, that of data integration and entity resolution. We have learned to differentiate between what is interesting in customer data to things that are valuable in customer data. That lesson has informed the decisions we have made and our product roadmap over the years.
What do you feel are the reasons behind your product popularity?
Our HiPER product is popular for three main reasons. The first is because it is non-intrusive. HiPER was designed to run as a service and does not require the customer “rip out and replace” their current systems. This also makes it easier and faster to install. The second reason is that customers really appreciate it focus on full life cycle management. In addition to its sophisticated automated matching capability, HiPER supports clerical review for correction and continual improvements. The third is that customers really appreciate its transparency of operation. The system produces complete and detailed metadata about its operation, something important for data governance. Customers are often surprised to find that with our solution, they have ownership of the matching that we develop for their application.
What inspires you to excel in your field of business?
Entity resolution is a common problem across many industry verticals. It is gratifying to have a software solution agile enough to solve this problem across so many types of businesses from marketing and financial (person and household entities) to healthcare and insurance (patient, member, and provider entities) to manufacturing (product and supplier entities).
Do you have any new products ready to be/getting ready to be rolled out into the market?
The constantly changing information technology landscape dictates faster, more fluid associations. Our new product, HiPER-RT, performs entity resolution in Real Time. Targeting sub-second performance, HiPER-RT enables our clients to be much more responsive with their entities and consumers. This capability is quickly proving to be a game changer in today’s high-speed world.
Where do you see you and your company a couple of years from now?
I see the company thriving, still in an aggressive growth posture but with improving margins.
Meet the Key Executives
Rick McGraw, Chief Executive Officer: Rick possesses invaluable experience in both the technology and financial services industries, along with strong relationship-development skills that have proven instrumental in assembling Black Oak’s impressive team.
He led the financial services sales support and global government practice for Acxiom Corporation. He spent more than 20 years in the banking industry, including 13 years as president and CEO of Simmons First National Corporation’s $2 billion mortgage banking company, which became one of the nation’s largest issuers of GNMA securities and served as an advisory director for FNMA.
Dr. John R. Talburt, Chief Science Officer: Dr. Talburt serves as the subject matter expert for our Master Data Management solutions. In addition to being Black Oak Partner’s chief scientist, Dr. Talburt is also a professor of Information Science and director of the Information Quality Graduate Program at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock (UALR). He is executive director of the UALR Center for Advanced Research in Entity Resolution and Information Quality (ERIQ), and serves on the board of directors of the Electronic Commerce Code Management Association (ECCMA) and as an advisor to the board of directors of the International Association for Information and Data Quality (IAIDQ).
Prior to joining the Black Oak team, Dr. Talburt led research, development, and product innovation at Acxiom Corporation, a global leader in information management and customer data integration.