What do a consumer catalog in someone else’s name delivered to your door, a spelling error and mathematical set theory have in common? The answer is that all are factors affecting the quality of a customer master data management system. It should go without saying that a critical success factor of any business is to know its customer. The proliferation of enterprise software and the need to link data from different systems has placed a renewed spotlight on MDM solutions and, more specifically, customer MDM solutions.

The best customer MDM systems do not exist in a vacuum. They are continually updated with the latest and greatest data available, whether that be from a customer change request, an internal CRM system or a partner data feed. But in order for this data to be meaningful and accurate, it must be integrated with existing data so as not to create duplicates or apply updates to the wrong record. The challenge with customer MDM is that names are not unique. In addition, persons may change their name and customers may shift addresses. In the absence of a unique identifier (e.g., Social Security number), what mechanisms exist for matching this type of data? How can the savvy IT professional be certain that customer additions are genuine and not just a clever duplicate?

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