In my previous column, we started to look at the topic of master data management and customer data integration, and how those tasks are related to each other as well as to other historical attempts at enterprise knowledge integration. As part of the integration process, this month we look at a case study involving the exchange of data using what are thought to be commonly defined data standards. This case study exposes a problem when a data standard is in place and what happens when individual participants adjust their adherence to the standard.

This topic surfaces frequently, and it relates to the use of agreed-to data set formats for data interchange whose use somehow diverges from their original intent. The changes occur subtly over time, and in potentially multiple places; therefore, until an analyst actually sits down to review the different uses, the variants would not even be noticed. Sometimes the differences are in content and sometimes they are in form, but at some point, especially when data is being exchanged, the variances will result in the inability to synchronize data values between information exchange partners.

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