In physics, antimatter has the same mass, but opposite charge, of matter. Collisions between matter and antimatter lead to the annihilation of both, the end result of which is a release of energy available to do work.
In this blog series, I will use antimatter as a metaphor for a factor colliding with a master data management (MDM) matter that not only annihilates it, but also prevents a release of energy needed to make MDM work.
I call these factors the antimatters of MDM.
Various versions of verisimilitude
One of the many things that differentiates master data management from data warehousing is the goal of providing the organization with a single view of master data entities (parties, products, locations, assets) by creating their best data representations. These master-data-pieces, which make MDM alternatively stand for Master Data Museum, are often referred to as the organization’s single version of the truth.
However, truth, like the beauty of the artwork hanging on the walls of actual museums, is in the eyes of the beholder. And since the organization has more than one set of eyes, instead of a single version of the truth it has what I call various versions of verisimilitude.
Many within an organization advocating for a single version of the truth are viewing the data world with silo-shaped glasses. In other words, many organizations persist on their reliance on vertical data silos, where each business unit acts as the custodian of their own private data, thereby maintaining their own version of the truth, which is the single version of the truth from their perspective.
Although this silo mentality is often cast as a negative (as I just did), most companies are organized by functional area, line of business or some other division of labor for a good reason — it allows daily operations to be carried out by people who have been trained in a specific type of business activity, which must be viewed within the context of that intentional tunnel vision in order for the enterprise to conduct its business.
Additionally, regulatory compliance initiatives, such as Dodd-Frank in the US and Solvency II in the EU, require the creation of a version of the truth for a single purpose, namely for satisfying the data-related requirements of the regulations, which might not satisfy other business needs for the same data.
As the artist Eduardo Hurtado said, “should you paint a credible sky, you must keep in mind its essential phoniness.” His point was art is only a representation of reality, which in turn is only our perception of reality.
Therefore, should you create a credible version of the truth, you must keep in mind it is essentially only one of the various, and business-justifiable, versions of verisimilitude applicable to your organization. Collectively these create an antimatter minefield that you must carefully traverse in order to make MDM a successful matter when viewed from every valid business perspective within your enterprise.