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Master data, what are we talking about?

With the explosion in the volume of data collected and generated by organisations, many organisations have become aware of the greater importance of certain types of data. Among the most critical data is master data. Master data, also known as high value dataset (HDV) for the public sector, is trusted data shared across an ecosystem.

Centralised in a single repository, it supports the day-to-day activity of the economy of a company, a community or a country. Their main characteristics are: stability over time, reliability, uniqueness, quality and freshness. They are easily accessible, allow interaction with other information and are part of the organisation's heritage.

Master data for companies

It represents the essential information carried by customers, suppliers, partners, employees, products, etc. Managing it in a central repository provides a single view and authority for the smooth running of the business.

In an environment of volume, speed and variety, they ensure the consistency and rationalization of information in communicating information systems. They also strengthen relationships with partners and suppliers when business software is able to interact and collaborate with each other.

They facilitate the creation of value in their reuse, particularly by mixing them with other data sets in real time. This interoperability around reference data facilitates the volumetric exchange of data flows between applications via APIs (Application Programming Interfaces) or web services, both of which are data exchange protocols.

MDM, the master data tool

Master Data Management (MDM) is a priority for companies to ensure consistency in the distribution and sharing of information. MDM also refers to the set of governance processes that enable a consolidated repository of master data to be built with integrity and quality. In their construction, this essential data is cleaned, deduplicated, enriched and then regularly updated to stay ahead of the competition.

This master data also crosses business processes, such as third-party data - customer or supplier - around the national legal identifier, VAT number, company name, registered office address, telephone number, APE code, legal form, etc. Thus, by definition, the master data must be consistent, exhaustive, up-to-date, of good quality and correct, in order to achieve a performance objective.

“Deliver the right product to the right customer, in the right quantity, at the right price, at the right place and with the right invoice, within a short time.”

Master data - a competitive challenge

Centralised and shared within the organisation, it is a key essential for the competitiveness of companies and promotes their agility. Without this trusted data, the consequences for the company are significant risks in day-to-day management and decision making. This environment implies that must have up-to-date, relevant, traceable and historical reference data in order to be able to cross-reference and share it between the various business applications, both internally and externally.

The objective is to be able to predict behaviour or anticipate the design of new offers, with the aim of satisfying all stakeholders, customers and shareholders. The initialization of a master data repository is the first major step in good data governance.

“Which data is essential, most critical and most relevant to my business?”

It is the question to ask when identifying master data, because they are not the same for all companies. It is specific to the size, the market and the sector in which the company operates.

European public master data or "high value dataset"

Directive 2019/1024 PSI - Public Sector Information - on open data and its re-use, was adopted on 20 June 2019. It encourages EU Member States to make certain high-value public sector datasets available as open data.

"Open" means free for re-use with minimal legal restrictions in a machine-readable format, via APIs for bulk downloads.

Here are the 6 thematic categories of high-value datasets defined by the EU Directive:

  • Geospatial (e.g. road network, river patterns, land elevation and relief representation...).

  • Earth and environmental observation (improving environmental management, helping to understand and mitigate the effects of climate change...)

  • Meteorology (air temperature, partial pressure of water vapour in air, wind speed, global solar radiation, precipitation...)

  • Statistics (population, trade and services, agriculture, fisheries...)

  • On businesses and commercial properties

  • On mobility (static: stops, timetables, fares, accessibility for disabled people.... Dynamic: real time timetables, disruption information...)

This provision of master data, combined with other data sets, is essential to generate new innovative services, create opportunities, exploit the full potential, improve transparency and dynamism of the economy.

What conclusion?

In the digital age, the governance of master data is a major strategic issue, both for companies and for public organisations, in a context of internationalisation. This private or public data is used at the heart of the information system, as well as for the organisations' peripheral applications.

They constitute a unique reference to be linked and interact with other data. Through their uniqueness, they create value and enrich transactional data.

Finally, good management of master data improves the actions deployed by each department of the organisation, in a context where numerous regulations and laws require ever greater transparency and justification.

Source: Ellisphere


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