Where MDM is, DW is Better

I am reading a book on MDM by IBM Press, entitled “Enterprise Master Data Management – An SOA Approach to Managing Core Information”.  Long title, longer list of authors. Well written. In the old days, it was the DW’s responsibility to cleanse the data and integrate sources. However, this value add could not be pushed back to the source systems easily. Now, the problem has been even more accentuated, with the advent of new customer facing services, that have been designed as separate applications for practical reasons. The concept of Master Data has been diluted, with a number of applications having their own version of it. The effect is an unconsolidated view of Customers, Products, and Suppliers. The result is lost opportunities – cross selling opportunities, targeted marketing opportunities, new product introduction opportunities.

The task (of implementing MDM) isn’t easy. Not only do you have to consolidate the Master Data across multiple applications, but you have to ensure that the consolidated data is then used by every one of those applications. Services can help you do that.

Such projects are going to be as big or bigger than DW projects in large organizations. I see the same type of incremental approaches being suggested. In other words, don’t try to do everything at the same time. Do it gradually, and show value in every step. The similarity with the EDW experience is obvious.

This will make DW easier. of course, and provide more value. The transactional history of customer behavior or product buying patterns will be even richer. The trick is to use the MDM as the source for your dimensional data.

One of the challenges will be that the DW will already be in place in your organization. So, as your MDM solution is being put in place, you need a strategy of migrating your DW to take advantage of this rich new source of dimensional data. The same incremental approach can be used.

In future, data strategies will talk about MDM, DW and BI in the same breath. They go hand in hand. It’s a perfect love triangle.


  1. Hi Shubho,

    agree with your take on the twin pair of DWH & MDM – however I think the turnaround effect can and should be the old paradigm of active DWHs or Operational Data Stores.

    To my experience MDM is just one of many examples where the content nature of a data warehouse is fused together with the process nature of an operational task. If you cannot merge the two – the business value will at best be mediocre.

    Maybe we should act as co-authors on our mutual blogs. Would be happy tpo occasionally write a fitting piece to yours…

    Take care

    1. Hi Tom,
      You’re right. MDM seems to be ODS but with an SOA twist, perhaps, and more software oriented than ODS was. Yes, I like the idea of collaborating on this. Please feel free to suggest suitable articles on my blog. I’ll follow your blog as well.
      Also, I have created a LinkedIn group named dwbIdeas for ideas that people might have in the data management area that they might want to share. If you are on Linked In, please feel free to join.

  2. Not to be a bore but I would like to shift the discussion to a process view.

    MDM main problem is not technology/system/models. All of them are pretty easy to work with, it is normal IT architecture.

    The hard part when working with MDM is the change of cooperate culture, ownership of information objects, governance process and the alignment of MDM process to your business process. MDM should not be IT driven.

    With out a clear connection between your MDM process and the business processes you will not get the result intended.

    DW is just one of many “users” of an MDM installation. But sure, the DW will have a lot to win on an good MDM implementation.


    1. Patrik,
      You are absolutely correct. My article does not talk about the process, which is very important in MDM. Thanks for pointing that out.

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