The latest buzzword in information management - and by extension, business intelligence (BI) - is master data management (MDM). You may hear this phrase and stated goal of creating a single version of the truth and wonder, "Haven't we been here before?" or, "We already do that in the data warehouse, right?" You may be correct on both counts. MDM has become hot due to the perfect storm of:

MDM primarily refers to the 15 percent volume of organizational data that supports the organization's transactional data. In data warehouse vernacular, it is what we've come to call dimensional data. Master data management is the organization, management and distribution of corporately adjudicated information with widespread use in the company. It is part of the IT response to modern business requirements, along with right-time data warehousing, data mining, metadata and a data quality program. Some modern business requirements increasing the focus on master data are vendor management, supplier self-service, promotion management, customer management, churn management and regulatory compliance. Without master data, these requirements cannot be met. This is understood, and we have attempted to meet our master data needs in many ways over the years. Pre-data warehouse efforts included the distribution of master VSAM and database files to distributed applications, which invariably customized their structure and format. Centralization remains elusive with this approach. The cry for a single version of the truth brought on the advent of data warehousing, creating the hub for master data.

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