I received one particular (spam) email today from www.intermarket.com – not an organization I am that familiar with. However, the email informed me, “If last year’s events and the sudden vanishing of entire markets have made one thing clear to investors it is the following: never again take a price at face value.”
This reminded me of a number of 1-1’s I had with clients last week at the Gartner IT Expo/Symposium. Many clients were asking questions regarding MDM and some specifically explored, “what is master data?” Price, the focus of the Intermarket email, is a difficult concept to tie down with respect to MDM.
Master data has certain characteristics, so a test of “is something master data” has to be thought through in relation to these characteristics. One such characteristic concerns the degree to which the data is re-used (by processes, systems and/or users). Price certainly meets this requirement in that it is re-used by many systems etc. Price can be referred to for quoting, and it can be assigned to a business transaction and embedded into a financial transaction. It can also be used as another reference for comparing to invoices for payment reconciliation. The importance of maintaining price accuracy and completeness (two types of “quality”) can be critical to businesses – in terms of business performance as well as regulatory compliance.
However, for some uses or even entire firms, price can be derived, in that it is calculated a point in time depending on things like terms of a deal, date, event, or any combination or intersection across customer, location, and order etc. Once calculated the price may then be re-used. Once derived data is…derived, then it may yet look and smell like master data.
The bottom line here is that there are few real universal truths for, “what is master data?” It depends – often on the business, uses of the data and other factors.