Master Data Management: Forest and the trees

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Master Data Management: Forest and the trees

Unless you have spent the last five years on a desert island and have been devoid of today’s modern communication technologies, it is hard to imagine that you have never heard of the term Master Data Management, or MDM for short. MDM is the field of information management that offers huge opportunities in improving data quality for organisations. That subject is a high priority for many organisations now. But what do we mean by MDM?

If you spend thirty frustrating minutes searching online, then you will find a whole pile of definitions for MDM circulating on the web. Here are some examples of what you might encounter, in no particular order:

• A set of disciplines, processes and technologies for ensuring the accuracy, completeness, timeliness and consistency of multiple domains of enterprise data – across applications, systems and databases, and across multiple business processes, functional areas, organisations, geographies and channels. (Dan Power)

• Master data management is a comprehensive method of enabling an enterprise to link all of its critical data to a common point of reference. When done properly, MDM helps improve data quality and streamline data sharing between employees and departments. In addition, MDM can facilitate computing in multiple system architectures, platforms and applications. (TechTarget)

• Master data management is the effort made by an organisation to create one single master reference source for all critical business data, leading to fewer errors and less redundancy in business processes. (Informatica)

• Master Data Management refers to the management of specific essential data assets for a company or enterprise. MDM is partly about overall data management, but is generally focused on processing data elements at a higher level, such as broader identity resolution classifying people, things, locations and concepts.

• Master data management (MDM) is the practice of defining and maintaining consistent definitions of business entities. These definitions are then shared via integration techniques across multiple IT systems within the company (and sometimes beyond) in order to partner with companies or clients. (Philip Russom)

• MDM is a technology-enabled discipline in which business and IT work together to ensure the uniformity, accuracy, stewardship, semantic consistency and accountability of the enterprise’s official shared master data assets. (Gartner)

Are you still with us? Can’t see the forest for the trees by now? Not a problem. When you spend some time searching online for MDM-related subjects, it will soon become clear to you that MDM, unlike other disciplines, is still at a very early stage. It is therefore not odd at all that there are still such a wide variety of opinions about what MDM actually entails. However, it is only a matter of time before a consensus will be reached. Until then, it’s probably fine not to make things too difficult for yourself. In this respect, Brian Rensing of Proctor & Gamble sets a good example by stating in Enterprise Systems Journal that “You have to start MDM by attacking a problem that hurts people in their day-to-day jobs — and use easy words.”

So if you are looking for a definition for MDM that needs to meet the needs of your organisation, don’t opt for a complex explanation that is pointless for your target audience. Keep it nice and simple.


Are you looking for a simple MDM strategy? Or are you in the process of implementing MDM, and would you like to have a sounding board? Then feel free to contact us!


Jacco Oudeman

References consulted for this post:
Enterprise Systems Journal (2018)
Gartner (2018)
Informatica (2018)
Power, Dan (2015)
Russom, Philip (2018)
Technopedia (2018)
TechTarget (2018)