A lot has been written about master data management (MDM) over the last few months on the Business Intelligence Network. Although there are some differences of opinion about how to implement MDM, I think everyone agrees that MDM is associated with both business transaction and BI application processing. Given that many companies have master data managed by both types of application where is the best place to start an MDM project?
In the business transaction processing area most attempts at integrating master data have been based on custom built IT applications. The application package vendors are beginning to offer packaged solutions for MDM, but many of them are focused primarily on integrating master data from their various business transaction application packages. To be successful these packaged MDM solutions must also provide support for master data from legacy and third-party application packages.
The data warehousing area of IT has often done the best job in many companies in understanding, documenting, cleansing and integrating operational data. When discussing MDM and data warehousing, however, it is important to separate operational processing from BI processing. I would argue that using an operational data store or a data hub to consolidate and propagate business transaction data and master data is operational processing, not BI processing. Of course, the integrated master data system of record created by this processing is an ideal data source for BI processing applications and their underling data warehouses and data marts.
Some analysts and vendors are arguing that data from operational data stores, data warehouses and master data stores should be integrated into a single data warehousing environment. To me this is backward thinking and will cause even more operational processing to be brought into the BI environment. We should be looking for ways of reducing the operational work being done in the BI environment, not increasing it.
Master data processing needs to be separated from both the business transaction and BI environments and integrated into a single MDM system. This MDM system should be used to supply data to business transaction and BI applications, not the reverse. It will take time to move such an MDM environment, and meanwhile there are tactical MDM approaches that can leverage existing master data in both business transaction and BI applications. It not be forgotten, however, that in the longer term the objective is to separate and integrate master data into its own environment.
I will discuss this topic in more detail in my October newsletter article on the BI Network.
Posted September 26, 2006 12:53 PM
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