Answering Questions from LinkedIn

I got a good question via LinkedIn the other day, so I thought I’d answer it here:

Dear Dan,

I am a database architect but I am new to MDM and data governance, and I’m very interested in this area.

Can you please suggest where to start? I’ve found some information on the web (sometimes a bit disconnected), but I seem to be lost with so much information. Also, the tools that are currently available in the market – do they address all the challenges in this space?

One question I have is: if data quality is given the importance it deserves from the beginning of any project (operational or data warehouse), are MDM initiatives necessary? Are MDM projects needed because of the proliferation of applications that are developed in silos and that don’t consider what information is already available to the enterprise? In essence, should MDM be part of any project?

Thanks for your time.

Not to sound too self-serving, but I’d start with this blog and the MDM Community.

As for your question about whether MDM initiatives are necessary if data quality is given sufficient importance, please realize that MDM is a relatively new discipline which includes embedded data quality; it does not replace data quality.

What MDM does is sit between the source systems (typically CRM and ERP) and the data warehouse and business intelligence. So instead of trying to flow master data and transactional data directly into the warehouse for analysis, we bring it into the MDM system first, where it can be “mastered” – which includes fixing data quality issues. We then flow those corrections back into the source systems and downstream into the analytical systems. Which of course you can’t do without data quality tools. But data quality tools by themselves are not sufficient, because they typically don’t persist or store the data.

Your next question, are MDM projects necessary because of the proliferation of apps developed as silos – yes, that’s a big part of it. Essentially, if you developed a new architecture from scratch, you’d put a multi-domain MDM hub, able to handle many types of master data at the core, and you’d build data quality into it, then you’d surround it with integration so you can flow data from there to where ever it’s needed. So clean, accurate, consistent and timely master data would be available to any other IT project that was going on, but it would only have to be built once. “Build once, use many”, as they say.

Please keep reading and I hope you stay interested in MDM and data governance!

I got an answer from this person today that I thought I’d share with you here:


Thank you very much for your insights. Whatever documents I had read about MDM had more to do with the people, process or technology, but didn’t cover the essence of MDM. I’ve gone through some of your blogs and I’m beginning to understand MDM.

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