Asking data questions

Posted by Douglas Wood, Editor. Mr. Wood is VP, The Americas at Xanalys LimitedThe Investigation Software Company.

A brief read and good perspective from my friend Chris Westphal of Raytheon. The article is by Anna Forrester of

Federal managers should invest in technology that would help them extract insights from data and base their investment decision on the specific problems and information they want to learn and solve, Federal Times reported Friday.

Rutrell Yasin writes that the above managers should follow three steps as they seek to compress the high volume of data their agencies encounter in daily tasks and to derive value from them.

According to Shawn Kingsberry, chief information officer for the Recovery Accountability and Transparency Board, federal managers should first determine the questions they need to ask of data then create a profile for the customer or target audience.

Next, they should locate the data and their sources then correspond with those sources to determine quality of data, the report said. “Managers need to know if the data is in a federal system of records that gives the agency terms of use or is it public data,” writes Yasin.

Finally, they should consider the potential impact of the data, the insights and resulting technology investments on the agency.

Yasin reports that the Recovery Accountability and Transparency Board uses data analytics tools from Microsoft, SAP and SAS and link analysis tools from Palantir Technologies.

According to Chris Westphal, director of analytics technology at Raytheon, organizations should invest in a platform that gathers data from separate sources into a single data repository with analytics tools.

Yasin adds that agencies should also appoint a chief data officer and data scientists or architects to assist the CIO and CISO on these areas.

Watson a name?

Posted by Douglas Wood, Editor.

We all know that John H. Watson, aka Dr. Watson, is a character in the Sherlock Holmes stories by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. As Holmes’ ever-present sidekick, Watson was invaluable as a sounding board and assistive narrator to his complex investigations.

William De Andrea, famed author of the Matt Cobb Mysteries book series once wrote of the fictional Watson…

Watson serves the important function of catalyst for Holmes’ mental processes… someone to whom the detective can make enigmatic remarks, a consciousness that’s privy to facts in the case without being in on the conclusions drawn from them until the proper time.”

An interesting description, and one that aptly describes the function of technology that bore his name 25 years ago.

Yes. There was a Watson technology 25 years ago.

You see, long before IBM began using the name Watson for its artificially intelligent computer system – the system designed to play the TV game show Jeopardy – the name was used by UK based Xanalys Limited for its industry leading investigation management software. (Incidentally, IBM Watson was named after that company’s first CEO Thomas J. Watson and not Dr. Watson as many believe.)

Xanalys’ Watson™ software was born out of Cambridge, England technology company Harlequin in the late 1980s. The programs in the Watson suite include Elementary Watson, Watson Mapping, Watson Pro, Watson PowerCase and Watson CaseCall. The foundation of the suite, though, was always Watson.

Watson, a name still trademarked by Xanalys, is a powerful visual analysis tool for operational intelligence that enables investigators to rapidly import, track and then interpret data from a wide range of sources. Watson provides a powerful querying facility to support the effective analysis of that data that can actually identify links between contacts and reveal associations among activities that are not immediately apparent to an investigator or analyst. Much like Dr. Watson’s assistance to Sherlock Holmes, the product serves as a consciousness that’s privy to the facts fed by the investigator.

Sometime in the mid 1990s, a decision was made to brand Watson under the name “Link Explorer™”. True, the latter does more effectively describe the functionality, but let’s be honest… Watson is a great and memorable name. Even after a decade, many investigators still talk about Xanalys’ Watson and recognize it as the original investigation management software.

So, whatever happened to Watson? Well, he is alive and well today – albeit under the pseudonyms “Link Explorer”, “PowerCase™”, “XIM™”, and “Link Explorer Enterprise™”. As did Watson, the powerful software tools help investigators move from threat triage to intelligence-led investigations (using powerful fraud and crime analytics) to evidence-based conclusions and document disclosure. Sherlock Holmes would have been so envious.

Yes, Watson lives on as evidenced by Xanalys’ growing list of delighted customers. It seems that, no matter the product name, the decision to implement best-in-class investigation software is… well, elementary.

Xanalys Ltd releases SaaS version of their industry leading investigative case managment solution


Altrincham, Cheshire, UK (PRWEB) May 12, 2014

Xanalys Limited today announced the immediate availability of its industry leading PowerCase XIM investigative case management software in a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) deployment model. PowerCase software is the leading major case management (MCM) platform for multi-jurisdiction crime and fraud investigations. The company’s enterprise versions of the software are widely deployed in the U.K., the United States, Australia, and Canada, and sits as the core MCM investigation tool at the Ontario Ministry of Community and Correctional Services. This deployment is regarded worldwide as the flagship implementation of investigative case management technology, with over sixty jurisdictions utilizing the solution to collaborate and investigate major crimes across the province.

“The PowerCase XIM SaaS offering is a customer-driven initiative,” said Douglas Wood, VP, The Americas & Global Corporate Development at Xanalys. “Our clients, including law enforcement, state and local government services, and large commercial organizations can expect to see a reduced time to benefit, lower initial costs, and reduced infrastructure costs with the SaaS offering.”

“Xanalys’ SaaS offering is deployed via a network of strategic hosting partners, each of whom have been vetted for security and privacy compliance,” added Xanalys Managing Director Greg Mann. “The Xanalys SaaS offering is extremely secure and allows users to investigate and solve more cases, more quickly.”

PowerCase XIM includes patented functionality for major case management, link analysis, data indexing, text analytics, and evidence preparation.

The company said that PowerCase XIM SaaS allows organizations to quickly implement and utilize the software without large upfront licensing fees, and with less strain on IT. The SaaS offering is currently being deployed at several end-user locations, and the company expects to issue further announcements on the product next quarter.

About Xanalys Limited
Xanalys is a rapidly growing, privately held company that specializes in developing powerful software for threat assessment, investigative case management, and advanced crime and fraud analytics. The company’s products help clients manage multi-jurisdiction investigations, assess and analyze suspicious financial transactions, capture and act upon intelligence, and disclose evidence in a court-ready format to ensure successful adjudications.

Ontario Homicide Investigator’s Association Awards

Posted by Douglas Wood, Editor.

 ImageXanalys Limited, a proud sponsor of the Ontario Homicide Investigator’s Association (OHIA), attended the group’s annual conference in Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada during the week of February 5.


We would like to congratulate Detective Sergeant Mitch Martin and Detective Darren Short of the Durham Regional Police for winning the annual Major Case Management (MCM) Award. In a ceremony on May 8, the officers were recognized for their best-practices use of Ontario’s MCM methodology and technology during the successful investigation of the murders of Puneet Singh Chhina, 26, and Harjinder Singh Sandhu, 28.


In mid-December, 2013, two men were convicted of the kidnapping and second-degree murders as a result of the work done by the award recipients and their supporting teams.


Ontario’s MCM unit is widely regarded as the gold-standard for major case management technology in the world, and Xanalys Limited is proud to have provided the robust PowerCase software which sits at the core of all major crimes investigations in the province for over a decade.  Sixty separate jurisdictions utilize PowerCase to collaborate, share data, and investigate all major crimes across the province of Ontario. No other vendor of case management software in the world has been able to successfully implement a solution to rival that used by the Ontario Ministry of Community and Correctional Services.


Congratulations again to D/Sgt Martin and Detective Short for their excellent work utilizing MCM and Xanalys PowerCase.

Perhaps a nice change at NICE Actimize?

Posted by Douglas Wood, Editor.

Though not publicly released, news out of NICE Actimize is that long-time CEO Amir Orad is leaving the company effective May 1. Indicative of the ‘what a small world this is’ nature of the financial crimes technology marketplace, former Pegasystems co-founder and head of Americas for BAE Systems Detica, Joe Friscia, will be taking over the helm at that time.

Mr. Orad led NICE Actimize’s product and strategy functions prior to his five year tenure as CEO. During his tenure, he scaled the business size over six-fold. He is also a founding board member at BillGuard the venture backed personal finance analytics and security mobile app company.

Prior to Actimize, Orad was co-founder and CMO of Cyota a cyber security and payment fraud cloud company protecting over 100 million online users, acquired by RSA Security for $145M. Following the acquisition, he was VP Marketing at RSA.

I’ve known both Amir and Joe for several years, and have a tremendous amount of respect for both gentlemen. While it’s sad to see Amir leave the organization, I know that his rather large shoes will be more than adequately filled by Mr. Friscia.

Joe’s background is well-suited to this new position, and all of us here at FightFinancialCrimes wish him well. Joe joined Detica when BAE Systems acquired Norkom Technologies in early 2011, where he served as General Manager and Executive Vice President of the Americas. Joe led the rapid growth of Norkom in the Americas, with direct responsibility for sales, revenue and profit as well as managing multi-discipline teams based in North America. Prior to Norkom, Joe helped start Pegasystems Inc in 1984, a successful Business Process Management software company that went public in 1996.

Best of luck to Amir in his new ventures, and to Joe as he guides Actimize into it’s next phase.

Part Two: Major Investigation Analytics – Big Data and Smart Data

Posted by Douglas Wood, Editor.

As regular readers of this blog know, I spend a great deal of time writing about the use of technology in the fight against crime – financial and otherwise. In early February, in Part One of this series, I overviewed the concept of Major Investigation Analytics and Investigative Case Management with examples including The Ontario Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services in Canada. Their Major Case Management Unit is recognized around the world as a flagship implementation of technology to aid the investigation of cross-jurisdiction criminal activity.

The major case for major case management (pun intended) was driven home at the recent Association of Certified Financial Crimes Specialists (ACFCS) conference in New York. Full Disclosure: I attended the conference for educational purposes as part of my role at intelligence software leader Xanalys Limited. Throughout the three day conference, speaker after speaker talked about making sense of data. I think if I’d have heard the term ‘big data’ one more time I’d have gone insane.  Nevertheless, that was the topic du jour as you can imagine, and the 3 V’s of big data – volume, variety, and velocity – remain a front and center topic for the vendor community serving the investigation market.

According to one report, 96% of everything we do in life – personal or at work – generates data. That statement probably best sums up how big ‘big data’ is.  Unfortunately for ACFCS members (including me), there was very little discussion about how big data can help investigate major crimes. There was a lot of talk about analytics, for sure, but there was a noticeable lack of ‘meat on the bone’ when it came to major investigation analytics.

Nobody has ever yelled out “Help, I’ve been attacked. Someone call the big data!”. That’s because big data doesn’t, in and by itself, do anything.  Once you can move ‘big data’ into ‘smart data’, however, you have an opportunity to investigate and adjudicate crime. To me, smart data (in the context of investigations) is a subset of an investigator’s ability to 1) Quickly triage a threat (or case) using only those bits of data that are most immediately relevant, 2) Understand the larger scope of the crime through experience and crime analytics, and 3) Manage that case through intelligence-led investigative case management. Data sharing, link exploration, text analytics, and so on. Connecting the dots, as they say.

From an investigation perspective, however, connecting dots can be daunting. In the children’s game, there is a defined starting point and a set of rules.  We simply need to follow the instructions and the puzzle is solved. Not so in the world of the investigator. The ‘dots’ are not as easy to find. It can be like looking for a needle in a haystack, but the needle is actually broken into pieces and spread across ten haystacks.

Big data brings those haystacks together, but only smart data finds the needles… and therein lies the true value of major investigation analytics.