Ok, we've all heard the term: MDM or master Data Management, but what the heck does it mean? My opinion is different than most, and in my search for the ultimate compliant warehouse I constantly battle with new acronyms... What EXACTLY is MDM? What about CDI (customer data integration)? Ok, how about these: PDM, BAM, BPR, LI, CRM, ERP, SEI, CMM, PMP, HIPPA, SARBOX, and so on? Well, I went overboard again (oh happy days...) Acronym soup is nothing new to me, I've been in the industry for over 15 years, been through the 80's and the Business Process Reengineering (BPR), also known as Lean Initiatives (LI), Six Sigma quality improvements, and ISO (international Standards Organization) setup.
Now comes BAM (business Activity management), MDM (master Data Management), CDI (customer Data Integration), PDM (parts data management), SCM (supply chain management), CML (customer Master Lists), and so on... Maybe one day we will realize that some of these acronyms are just new names for OLD (but valid) business goals. In this case, it's all about the business management, better quality, and shorter lead times, reduced overhead and increased revenue - after all, if I'm not making money, then why am I in business? In this entry I will focus on MDM and explore just what it is.
MDM aka: Master Data Management is likened to the production of "master lists" of centralized data sets. The notion that these data sets are "gospel" to the enterprise, and are agreed upon all the way to the top (board of directors), that these are single consolidated lists of data based on business keys, and descriptions only furthers the effort to use them as THE MASTER, the GOLDEN KEY, the LIST of: parts, services, products, deliverables, people, customers... you name it, there can be a master list for it....
BUT MDM takes it seriously as GOSPEL. In other words, many organizations and executive decision makers take an MDM to mean: it's the only SOURCE of all the integrated data of that type (CDI (customer for example)) that exists within the organization. The executives have just turned an MDM into a SYSTEM OF RECORD, like it or not, it's now got to be compliant with the WAY the business does business. It's a centralized system of data that has been cleansed, integrated, and archived. By the way, when completed, it also feeds 90% of the source systems from it's Master List.
BUT WAIT!!!!! What is an MDM really? And if I change the data on the way in, is it really compliant?
Here is where the discrepancies pop up. If the corporation were ever to be audited on the MDM they've built, they might be surprised to find out that keeping it as an audit trail much less a compliant audit trail will become extremely difficult, and in fact - won't stand up in court. Why? because the data itself within the MDM is essentially FLAWED, it has been altered to "meet today's expectations of what the TRUTH is." (and you know my feelings about the TRUTH, truth is all subjective no matter how you look at it.)
Now hold on, I'm not saying there's _no_ intrinsic value to the business to strive towards an MDM... I'm actually questioning if it really deserves the term MASTER DATA MANAGEMENT, I prefer to think of it as MASTER DATA MART - why? because my definition of data warehouse has changed. My definition of Data Warehouse (which is truly MASTER DATA) is essentially integrated, consistent, and EXACT copies of data as it stood on the source systems. (I define this much better in the Data Vault data model architecture at: http://www.DanLinstedt.com)
In other words, there are such things as Master Key Lists (MKL), and a horizontally integrated (without changed) data sets across the enterprise, but in my mind, the minute we put together CHANGES (quality, cleansing, profiling, aggregation, merging, purging, etc) in the data set, we've effectively produced a Data Mart. CHANGES TO THE DATA MADE BY ANY PROGRAMMATIC SYSTEM WITHIN THE WAREHOUSE CONSTITUTE THE CREATION OF A DATA MART, in which data is seen by, and created for specific user purposes.
Hence, I would like to say that MDM is really: master Data Mart, and enterprise accepted view of the data, that is not necessarily auditable nor traceable without the "warehouse" to back it up, in other words, the warehouse data to describe HOW we got to this level of integration.
Hold on, does MDM have value to the business?
ABSOLUTELY. There's no question that an MDM (master data mart) has value to the business, or we wouldn't see things like master parts lists, master customer lists, master services, master employees, master suppliers, etc... There is definitely value in consolidation and cleansing of data FROM the warehouse TO the data marts - there is definately value in producing data marts to meet the enterprise needs, answer questions, and provide a basis of historical data for pattern searching. But please don't confuse MDM with Data Warehouse, MDM is a data mart even if it's called Master Data Management, the end result of building one of these should be seen as, viewed as, a data mart and nothing more.
Now, can data marts feed operational systems?
Yes, as long as the physical source data from whence it was computed is actually available, auditable, and complaint. I can't stress enough how Data Warehouses must be compliant. The only time a Data Warehouse must not be compliant or probably does not need this level of source detail is when the warehouse is used for Strategic purposes, is ONE WAY IN (data comes in, is cleansed, and integrated, altered) and NEVER feeds source systems, and NEVER feeds operational activities and NEVER is involved in operational decisions.
CDI (customer data integration) is a form of MDM, and is just another data mart, and if you treat it this way - and keep your warehouse compliant and auditable, you are bound to have huge success moving forward. Contact me for success stories I've assisted with in the industry, I'd be happy to talk to you about this whole notion.
I'd also love to hear from you, even if you disagree, or have other opinions on what MDM means to you. Please elaborate below, all comments are welcome.
Thank-you very kindly,
Posted February 7, 2006 10:03 AM
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