What is Master Data Management?


Clearly, there is some confusion out there. This is one of the most commonly asked questions at our DAMA events. A lot of the confusion is linked to the plethora of technology solutions being touted as MDM solutions (or Product Masters or Client Masters).
Most sources define master data management as “being a collection of practices and technologies to create, maintain and distribute a consistent, accurate, enterprise-wide view of master data.”
Master (or reference) data in turn can be defined as the  “controlling set of values for data that uniquely defines objects (people, places and things  that provide context for transactions.)”
Most commercial MDM solutions are based on the concept of a centralised hub ( a new database) which is intended to hold and distribute the master record. However, an opposing soluton uses the concept of a messaging bus that distributes data without creating a new database or hub.In this case, the model uses existing sources to build a complete record.
Either approach is doomed to fail without a rigorous data management disciple already in place. This is because neither solution actually resolves underlying data issues – for this you need a data quality process and  solution.
Similarly, neither addresses the political complexities that come into play with any large project that affects multiple role players, divisions and systems. Data Governance, if sensibly implemented, is a critical success factor for managing the politics.
We have delivered a number of MDM solutions, across a range of industries and data areas. In each case the client defined an architecture that reused an existing data source, but focussed on managing, integrating and cleaning the data from the various sources. I will discuss both the data quality and data governance aspects of MDM over the next few weeks.
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