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Themes and Insights from the TDWI Solution Summit on Master Data, Quality and Governance

This week, we at TDWI produced our third annual Solution Summit on Master Data, Quality, and Governance, again in Savannah, Georgia. Jill Dyché and I moderated the conference, and we lined up a host of great user speakers and vendor panelists. The audience asked dozens of insightful questions, and the event included hundreds of one-to-on meetings among attendees, speakers, and vendor sponsors. The aggregated result was a massive knowledge transfer that highlights most of today’s burning issues in master data management, data quality, and data governance. I’d like to share with you some of the themes and insights that arose at the TDWI Solution Summit.


As you can see in the title of the conference, it brings together the data disciples master data management (MDM), data quality (DQ), and data governance (DG). TDWI has noted that many of its members coordinate these three very closely, sometimes with addition coordination for data integration, business intelligence, data warehousing, and metadata management. Most of the user case study speakers explained how their organizations are handling the coordination, including Cathy Burrows from Royal Bank of Canada (RBC), Becky Briggs from Airlines Reporting Corporation (ARC), and Mark Love and Sara Temlitz from the Veterans Health Administration (VHA).

A number of recurring themes were heard across the presentations and panels. But three stood out prominently: the importance of identity resolution, accurate matching, and de-duplication of redundant records. All three techniques apply to both MDM and DQ. It was obvious from speeches and questions from the audience that most organizations currently have matching and de-duplication in place, but need to complement these with identity resolution in the near future.

It would appear that data stewardship plays an important role in MDM--not just DQ. For example, speaker Becky Briggs (ARC) has won TDWI Best Practices awards for her applications of stewardship in data quality and analytics implementations. For many organizations, stewardship is a first step toward data governance. Mark Love from the VHA explained: “Our purpose for stewardship is to create a framework for data-related decision making, collaboration, and governance.” Furthermore, the VHA has expanded the concept of stewardship by hiring Identity Management Stewards who support MDM.


We all know that taking DQ functions upstream into the operational applications where data is entered or altered can substantially reduce DQ problems in applications databases and downstream databases (like data warehouses). But did you know that the same applies to MDM? Rick Clements from IBM played an eye-opening video that shows how to embed MDM matching and identity resolution functions in the GUIs of and other operational applications

David Smith (who’s on the CIO team at Citrix) shared with the audience his method for quantifying vendors and their tools, thereby giving structure and hard facts to the otherwise ad hoc process of selecting a vendor tool. Although the method can apply to many tool types, David explained how to apply it to the selection of an MDM tool.

In discussions of the future of MDM, we heard about how MDM is now available through clouds and software as a service (SaaS). For example, Peter Kulupka from Acxiom describing the cutting edge of MDM, where it’s provided as a service via a third-party public cloud. Similarly, Dan Soceanu from DataFlux pointed out that “The private cloud’s where it’s at for most enterprises doing DQ and MDM.”

The TDWI Solution Summit on Master Data, Quality, and Governance concluded with John Biderman of Harvard Pilgrim Health Care, who explained in detail his mature master reference data strategy, which includes a business-friendly, browser-based tool for entering, validating, and studying master data.

To learn more about the event, visit its Web site at: You can also read its tweets by searching Twitter for #tdwimdm.

Posted by Philip Russom, Ph.D. on March 14, 2011


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