master data management

Master Data Management is Also Going Big

Master Data Management is Also Going BigBig Data is not only a big topic, it is a hot one. And it might seem to be leaving master data management (MDM) in the dust behind it. MDM, after all, is concerned with organizing, standardizing, and cleaning up certain types of data – such as customer account records – that are critical, but not all that big. After all, even a few hundred million account records hardly ranks as Big Data in this day and age.

But as it turns out, firms with actual Big Data operations are finding that MDM information is a critical Big Data driver. Which means that the best time to clean up critical data with MDM is before embarking on Big Data operations – and investing in costly Big Data solutions.

Yes, everyone now is talking about Big Data. A suspicion of hype is only natural, given that the software industry is often fashion-driven. But as Andy Hayler notes at, Big Data turns out to be some "Big" substance, with unexpected ties to MDM.

Hayler's analyst firm, Information Difference, looked into Big Data with a survey last year of 209 firms. Respondents were primarily North American and European, but included some Asian companies. More than three quarters said that Big Data was "important" to them. That could be hype. But an impressive 19 percent said that they already had an operating Big Data application, with another 20 percent expecting to have one up and running by year's end.  

Even allowing for some, well, hype, a lot of firms are doing more than just talking: They are launching Big Data projects and investing in applications.

Further survey results provided more insights into how Big Data is playing out on the ground. One of the most striking facts to emerge may be that MDM has turned out to be a key driver for Big Data. Nearly three out of five firms with active Big Data projects (59 percent) find them to be connected to MDM. And most say that MDM is driving Big Data, rather than the other way around.

On reflection, this should not be a surprise. A lot of Big Data projects are about customers, and keeping customer data organized and clean is a major function of MDM. If you are going to crunch analytics about your customers' social media activity, for example, starting from garbage data – phantom customers, duplicated customers, and so forth – will only produce "Big Garbage" results.