In my previous post, I used a game show metaphor for one aspect of metadata management, namely making sure table definitions are not ambiguously labeled. In this post, I will use name tags as a metaphor to discuss an important intersection of metadata management and master data management (MDM), an intersection we could call master metadata management (perhaps we could even use the appetizing acronym MMM).
Master data is a description of real-world entities. Transaction data is a description of real-world interactions involving two or more of these entities. Although when most people think of MDM they think of customer MDM, customer is not a master data entity. Instead, customer is one of the many roles associated with the party master data entity.
I have previously blogged about not letting the customer role crash the MDM party, but for the sake of this discussion let’s imagine a party of a different sort: a cocktail party where you are given a name tag to wear. The cocktails are free for you because they are being paid for by the MDM software companies that sponsored this party at an industry conference. Any transactions conducted at this cocktail party would involve master data parties playing different roles. For example, my name tag might look like the one to the right, which not only provides my name, but also indicates my role as customer. You could conceptualize the company I purchased the MDM software from with a similar name tag indicating their role as vendor, while their salesperson whom I directly interact with would be playing the role of the vendor’s employee.
This simple scenario hopefully helps you understand the important role that metadata plays in properly managing party-role relationships in MDM. For an excellent discussion about this as well as other metadata concepts related to MDM, listen to this podcast with John Owens: Demystifying Master Data Management.