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Executive Summary

Master Data Management: Creating a Single View of the Business


Master data management (MDM) has become a very hot topic these days. Unfortunately it is also a source of confusion and frustration because of the disparate definitions, architectures and technologies available in this space. This report clarifies these problems and sets forth a concise, easily understood architecture for MDM into which you can map your MDM projects.

We begin by providing our definition of a mature, enterprise-wide MDM environment:

A set of disciplines, applications and technologies for harmonizing and managing the system of record and system of entry for the data and metadata associated with the key business entities of an organization.

We view the ultimate goal of MDM as much more than just a repository of integrated reference data. We feel that a critical part of MDM is the movement of both the system of entry and record from the operational systems to the MDM environment. While we recognize that not all master data may reach this lofty status in the MDM environment, it is still the goal that should be foremost in MDM implementers’ projects.

The benefits of a solid MDM environment are many, but they boil down to three major areas: reduced master data redundancy, more consistent master data and a significantly more efficient business. These benefits translate into real dollar returns on investment as evidenced by the four case studies included in this report.

We also dispel some common misconceptions about MDM – that it is a data warehousing or business intelligence (BI) project, that MDM is solely for maintaining data consistency across business transaction applications, that MDM is simply another data integration project, and finally that MDM projects integrate and manage all enterprise-wide data. These misconceptions have plagued nascent MDM projects from their beginnings. Hopefully setting the record straight here will improve the success rate of these important initiatives.

Our research has generated a well thought-out architecture consisting of three major components for MDM:

  • Master data store (MDS) and master metadata store (MMS) – one or more data repositories used for storing and maintaining master data and its corresponding metadata.

  • Master data integration (MDI) services – the various technologies used to perform the integration of master data, such as EAI, ETL and EII.

  • MDM applications – the processes that employ the MDI technologies to create and maintain an integrated set of master data.

Implemented correctly, MDM can provide significant business benefits in terms of improving productivity, reducing risk and increasing revenues. However, it must be realized that enterprise MDM is a multiyear strategic initiative that can evolve from smaller, more tactical projects provided an enterprise MDM plan is developed to support this evolution.

Read the entire study.