by Rob Karel.

I’m fortunate enough to be tracking two exciting, but vague and ill-defined markets that are becoming increasingly critical to large enterprises around the globe: master data management (MDM) and metadata management. Ask ten information management professionals what MDM and metadata means to them and you’ll likely receive 20 distinct answers.  MDM usually involves some business-focused statement about achieving a single trusted view of a customer, product, or some other critical data, while IT typically looks at metadata to reduce complexity, and increase productivity, reuse, and collaboration, by having a single version of truth about their company’s “data about data.” To me, it seems there should be more synergies and collaboration between these currently siloed and disparate enterprise initiatives.

I believe in a close alignment for a number of reasons:

  • MDM and metadata both require data governance and collaboration between the business, which will own the definitions of this data, and IT, which will deliver it. 
  • There’s no MDM without metadata.  The definitions, business rules, quality metrics, data relationships, policies, and stewardship roles that enable a master data capability are all captured and maintained through the effective use of metadata.  In other words, metadata is the only way that master data can truly be trusted.
  • The desire for master data is one of the key drivers that make metadata “business relevant” and not just another IT-driven initiative.

In the short term, my recommendation for information management professionals who are about to scope an MDM or metadata strategy is to consider scoping both together.  I expect software vendors and system integrators specializing in data management to increasingly offer methodologies, best practices, and tools to encourage this alignment of priorities, as well.