Wouldn’t the world be better off without the concept of master data?

Last week, Henrik Liliendahl responded to questions posed to him by Jan van Til.

Jan asked:

Wouldn’t the world be far better of without the concept of master data? What problems are solved by it? What problems are introduced by it? The balance? So … why do we keep toiling with master data?”

Henrik’s response deals with the questions asked, and, to a large extent I agree with his response.

Yet, to my view, Jan’s questions reflect the common common trap of mistaking master data (and / or master data management) as a technology rather than as a capability or discipline.

Master data is!

Master data is not a concept – it is data we use every day to reflect our business dealing. Our customers, our suppliers, our staff, our products and many more.

invoice without master dataThe invoice above delivers on Jan’s wish. All master data has been removed.

Master data management is not a technology!

We are managing our master data every day, just as we manage all data.

We just in most cases do it badly.

Our master data exists in silos, it is of poor quality, it is duplicated, it is complex.

Master data management is!

If we accept, as Henrik did in his response, that Jan was referring to the decision to deploy an MDM tool then his questions make more sense.

But, i would suggest that, even in this case, many of the challenges and problems experienced are caused by the erroneous belief that master data management is a technology.

This means that business does not engage and that the data governance and data quality prerequisites are underfunded or ignored.

We will keep toiling with master data until we recognise that this is core to our business, and prioritise accordingly


2 thoughts on “Wouldn’t the world be better off without the concept of master data?

  1. Maybe what Jan was asking runs in the opposite direction… maybe if we treated *all* of the classes of business data as worthy of the attention that just a few classes get the Information Management world would be better off.

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