Data quality tools have been around for some time, but the requirements of master data management (MDM) and product information management (PIM) are forcing a new wave of innovation and technology breakthroughs. The need to share information across the enterprise and supply chains is driving data from legacy application silos to be increasingly exposed and shared. This reveals massive inconsistencies and incompatibilities - hence, the recent interest in MDM and related technologies that promise to unify and synchronize this disparate data and deliver a single version of the truth.

Before a single version of the truth can be maintained, it must first be created, and that is more easily said than done. Loading an MDM system with inconsistent, as-is data risks a rude lesson in "garbage in, garbage out" and possibly the failure of the entire initiative. Disparate data must first be understood, then cleansed, enriched, standardized and restructured. Without this, records can't be reliably loaded, compared and matched across the enterprise.

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