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Understanding Master Data as a Non-Data User

The data guy or girl plays around with analytics all day, right? They probably use master data all the time and can analyse the most difficult interaction data.

Most of us have very weird ideas of what a normal day in the life of a data guru looks like. Many are also fascinated by such terms as Master Data. But what exactly is Master Data? And what should a non-data user understand about it?

What is Master Data?

According to Wikipedia, Master Data is a single source of basic business data used across multiple systems, applications, and processes. It represents data about the business entities that provide context for business transactions.

Master Data can also be defined as the “nouns” in a business or a business transaction. In most instances, the term describes the major actors in a business or business transaction.

The simplest way for most non-data users to understand Master Data is to recite a commonly agreed master data item list: Customers, Product, Location, Employee, and Asset.

Comparing Master Data to Other Types of Data

To fully understand what master data means, you will need to understand the other types of data typically used in an organisation, including:

  • Unstructured data – which are found in emails, white papers, PDF files and more.
  • Transactional data – about business events or transactions, such as sales, invoices, deliveries, etc.  
  • Metadata – which is data about other data, normally stored in formal repository or configuration files.
  • Hierarchical data – which defines the relationships between other data.
  • Reference data – which are special data used to categorise other data or relate them to information beyond the boundary of the organisation.

Master Data is often regarded as the core data that describes objects around which business is conducted.

General Master Data Domains

Master Data in any normal organisation can be categorised into four general domains and several sub-domains under each one. They include:

  • Customers (including customers, employees, and salespersons)
  • Products (including products, parts, store, and assets)
  • Locations (including office and geographic locations)
  • Others (here you have things like contract, license, warranty, and more).

What is Master Data Management?

Master Data Management refers to all disciplines, processes, and technologies used for accurate collection and use of the multiple domains of enterprise data. In a functional organisation, the data team oversee managing and governing master data and transaction data.

We can’t overemphasise the importance of managing master data correctly. It is possible to draw insight from quality transaction data, but real data gurus focus on effective management and governance of master data. Data gurus also work hard to ensure that every data is high-quality. Master data must be accurate, complete, and timely.

Do you wish to create a great customer experience? Let data gurus manage your master data. You can also enrol in a data literacy course to learn everything you need to make a start with data literacy.

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